I have this friend. Let’s call him Anthony, mainly because that’s his name.
Anthony is the kind of man who has neither the time nor the inclination for a pseudonym. He’s also the kind of man who takes trips on a whim, his latest a very special one.
A couple of weeks ago when Anthony told me he was flying to Ireland, I was so caught up in his going (I’ve never been) that I never asked him why. When I realized that Notre Dame was playing their opening game in Dublin, I put two and two together. He was already knee deep into a pint overseas before I came to this conclusion.
As he stumbled back into his favorite local pub back home, all jetlagged from his trip, I couldn’t wait to pick his brain.
You see, Anthony is more than just an ordinary Notre Dame fan. After reading the upcoming Q&A, I’ll allow you to determine just how much of a Fighting Irish fan he is. Just know that he has the words “Here come the Irish” tattooed on his forearm before you cast judgment.
Anthony has graciously agreed to answer a few questions about his trip, and share a few photos, in essence taking us along with him on Notre Dame’s historic trip to Dublin to see his beloved fighting Irish dismantle the Navy Midshipmen.
First off, Anthony, thanks for taking time to answer a few questions.
How long had you and your son planned this trip overseas?
Actually, the Notre dame was originally scheduled for 2021 but of course there was COVID and the game was postponed to 2023. I’ve had the great pleasure of being to Ireland a few times so I know my way around Dublin and knew what part of the city to stay and I was close enough to the stadium while also partaking in the local hot spots. The train system is very convenient and easy to understand.
How long were you there for and what kind of place did you stay?
My son and I got there Thursday morning and stayed through Monday. The game was of course Saturday. We stayed at a hotel called the Leonardo Hotel on Parnell Street. This is about 1-2 miles from Trinity College and the center City.
I didn’t know this until I looked it up, but this wasn’t the first time Notre Dame had played in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium. They also played Navy in 2012 back after the stadium was first built, another solid win by the Irish in that game 50-10. What was the environment like? That stadium only holds around 50,000 while South Bend holds 80,000. Did Aviva turn into South Bend west? And how many Dublin natives did you run into that were Notre Dame football fans?
Interestingly, I was also in Dublin in 2012 for the first game. Both games were incredible with the 2012 game during the day and the 2023 game at night.
Aviva holds like 65K fans and there was at least 80% Irish fans. I’ve been told by locals that 45K American came over for the game. Irish fans were everywhere and even some of the local folks took in the game of course comparing Rugby and American Football. Although, most locals don’t really get the concept of a College team playing with so many fans as the local school in Dublin Trinity college is famous for being 300 years old not necessarily for their sports teams.
During the second half (as the game was out of hand) many of the midshipman walked up and down the aisles looking for family and friends who made the trip over. Very cool to see.
No talk of a trip to Ireland can be complete with discussion of the pubs over there. How was the hospitality? How was the crowd? How was the food? And I suppose most importantly, how were the pours?
Well Irish hospitality is legendary and the locals did not disappoint. Everywhere we walked in an around Dublin the local bars, pubs, restaurants, stores, etc. were advertising Notre Dame and or Navy. It was an incredible thing to see so much coordination and cooperation. The Irish Immigration Center had a wing dedicates to the Notre Dame connection with Dublin as well as a wing celebrating President Kennedy’s historic visit to Dublin in 1963. The food was great and drinks were flowing. Guinness tastes very different in Ireland than in the US.
The bars were typically packed along the Liffey River and near Center City Dublin. There is a hot spot called Temple Bar with tons of bars and places to listen to live music. Think of bourbon street in New Orleans, 7th in Ybor and Duval in Key West. Just great people, conversations, singing and of course discussions on Notre Dame
Thanks again for taking the time to take us along with you virtually? Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A little Notre Dame history as it relates the Naval Academy. During WW2 the country was going through massive change and millions of men and young men were fighting overseas the attendance at Notre Dame suffered greatly. You see Notre Dame (like many schools) was only for men back then and they were in serious financial trouble. Notre Dame is a small school anyway (today there is only about 9K students enrolled full time). Navy decided to help Notre Dame and sent hundreds of students and graduates to train at Notre Dame and assisted the college with financial support for infrastructure and maintenance. Essentially, Navy kept Notre Dame alive and without that support Notre dame likely closes its doors. It’s one of the connection the two schools have and why they play each other each year and always will. The “rivalry” is derived from mutual respect and admiration for each other.
After 4 quarters of playing hard nose and tough football regardless of the score each team goes to each other’s corner of the end zone in front of each other’s student body and arm and arm sings each other’s alma mater TOGETHER! It is a sight to see and to my knowledge the only two teams that do that in college football.