Notre Dame Nickname

Hesburgh_Library

Knute Rockne, the leprechaun, and Touchdown Jesus can only be associated with one school–the University of Notre Dame.  The school has won over 850 football games and has 13 national championships.  They are known as the Fighting Irish.  Before that name took hold, the school was known as the Catholics then the Ramblers.  No one knows for sure how the Fighting Irish nickname came to be, but several stories do exist.

The first story involves the Northwestern game in Evanston, Illinois in 1899.  At the end of halftime, Northwestern fans began to chant–“Kill the Fighting Irish, kill the Fighting Irish,” and purportedly, Notre Dame officials deemed the moniker appropriate.

The next story involves halftime of the Michigan game in 1909.  Many of the Notre Dame players had Irish surnames such as Kelly, Duffy, and Ryan.  With Notre Dame trailing, one of the players reportedly yelled to his teammates, “What’s the matter with you guys?  You’re all Irish and you’re not fighting worth a lick.”  Notre Dame came back to win the game and reporters who overhead the remarks wrote that the Fighting Irish were victorious.

And finally, the Notre Dame Scholastic in a 1929 edition wrote:

The term Fighting Irish has been applied to Notre Dame teams for years… at the time the title the Fighting Irish held no glory or prestige…the years passed swiftly and the school began to take a place in the sports world…Fighting Irish took on a new meaning…the team has become our heritage…so truly does it represent us that we are unwilling to part with it.

No one knows the true story, so take your pick.  What is certain is that the Fighting Irish is one of the most recognizable names in college sports.  So cheer, cheer for Ole Notre Dame!

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