University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Notre Dame Traditions
Photography by Robert F. Ringel

Notre Dame Traditions Fighting Irish began as a slur -- a term of opprobrium. But we took it up and made it a badge of honor -- a symbol of fidelity and courage to everyone who suffers from discrimination; to everyone who has an uphill fight for the elemental decencies, and the basic Christian principles woven into the texture of our nation. Preserving this tradition, and this meaning of Irish at Notre Dame does honor to every one of us.

-- Why the "Fighting Irish"?
Rev. Charles Carey, C.S.C.

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Although Notre Dame has, now and then, been defeated, she has never been known to quit. Indeed so well have Notre Dame teams struggled in the face of adverse conditions and with defeat seemingly certain, that they have become known the country over as "fighting" teams. This appellation implies not brutality, but bravery and perseverance -- it means that Notre Dame is never beaten until the final whistle blows. The Notre Dame rooter has also imbibed the spirit of our teams: he never quits. For real spirit, the spirit that means loyalty in defeat as well as victory, the Notre Dame student owns no superior. It is this spirit that has brought us victory in the past; its preservation means new and greater victories in the future.

-- 1916 Dome

John Cavanaugh used to say that leadership was a very simple matter. All you needed was a vision of where you wanted to go and the ability to inspire a lot of people to help you get there.

-- Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC, God, Country, Notre Dame (New York: Doubleday, 1990), p. 68.

© 2001 by Robert F. Ringel.
All rights reserved.