Is it time to reconsider Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish nickname? That was he question that was presented by a Notre Dame Fighting Irish website.
It reads as:
“So, when I say this, know that I’m not suggesting erasing all history of the Notre Dame nickname. In fact, historically, being called the “Fighting Irish” has helped Notre Dame a lot. It helped them build a national following, especially in cities with a lot of Irish Americans. In fact, my home town, which has its roots with Notre Dame, has a disproportionate amount of Notre Dame fans because of the nickname. It’s even helped establish an International following.
The nickname “Fighting Irish” has given Notre Dame a strong, cultural identity. We are Catholic, often proudly immigrant (with men like Knute Rockne carrying the torch), and you’re in for a fight when you play us. None of that is inherently bad for a small, Catholic, Midwestern university.”
We haven’t even got to the juicy part yet. It continues…
“Unequivocally, the origins of the nickname stem from a desire to differentiate Notre Dame for its Catholicism. It is a negative portrayal of Catholics and immigrants. It is a stereotype of the violent Irish. It’s just been spun into a positive over time.
Now, in all of this, it would be easy to see the nickname “Fighting Irish” as offensive. However, many people don’t find it offensive at all. In fact, they have embraced the nickname. As for myself, it didn’t bother me growing up, despite being Catholic and of Irish descent. Being the “Fighting Irish” wasn’t why I rooted for Notre Dame, though many of my friends growing up did for this reason.
However, over time, my personal feelings on that have changed.
When the Irish came to America, they were second class citizens. In my hometown, so closely associated with Ireland that its original name was “Ireland Parrish,” there were signs in windows that stated “No Irish. No dogs.” My ancestors dug the canals and built the dam that powered Holyoke, Massachusetts into the industrial revolution. As for the jobs, “Help wanted: No Irish need apply.”
This, their welcome to a nation with streets paved with gold, as they fled the genocide of Black 47. As they left an island stolen from them, a language eradicated, a culture razed they came to the United States and weren’t trusted for their religion. This, in a land built on the basis of freedom of religion. They came to the United States on coffin ships. They lived in slums. This, to build the United States up for someone else.
So, yes, it bothers me that the term “Fighting Irish” is used for a nickname. It bothers me that its origins are based on stereotypes, and trying to make the Catholic team seem lesser than their opponents. It bothers me that their mascot and logo are a leprechaun with his fists up like he’s John L. Sullivan.
I’ll continue to simply refer to them as “The Irish.” This embraces the cultural ties to Irish Americans, without using an outdated stereotype. The superimposed ND is a good logo. We don’t need a fighting leprechaun.”
As you know, we are in a trying time in our country that has seen multiple statues being forcefully taken down by protesters who are still fuming over the police-related death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In the wake of his death, people have called on the likes of the Washington Redskins to change their name as well as the Cleveland Indians.
It appears at least one person connected with the Fighting Irish wants to see a new name change as well.