Notre Dame’s famous Fighting Irish football team is one steeped in traditions that are over a century old. With another football season quickly approaching, Yahoo! contributing writer Jason Ciluffo has outlined the top ten tried and true traditions, some of them with authentic Irish roots, for the Fighting Irish.
1. The Tunnel Entrance - As a youth, nothing was more exciting or announced than, "Here come the Irish!" Since 1931, the Fighting Irish have entered the field from the North Tunnel to the adulation of fans, ready for victory. Evidently, even Samwise Gamgee has been in on the action.
2. The Student Section/"Alma Mater" - One of the most stunning traditions at ND occurs after the outcome of any game has long been decided — when players and the student section alike participate in the singing of the "Alma Mater." Win or lose, a game is not finished until the players approach the student section, link arms, and sing "Notre Dame, Our Mother."
3. The Irish Guard/"Hike, Notre Dame" - An essential part of the pre-game ritual is the Irish Guard — 10 tall kilt-clad soldiers lead the marching band onto the field by high-stepping to "Hike, Notre Dame." In addition, the Guard raises the American flag to the "Star-Spangled Banner" and "America, the Beautiful." The Guard also tends to victory clog dance in the wake of Irish scores.
4. The March to the Stadium - The procession of the Leprechaun, cheerleaders, Irish Guard, and marching band to Notre Dame Stadium is truly a sight to be seen.
5. The Imperial March/Darth Vader's Theme & the 1812 Overture - Of the impressive body of
work performed by the UND marching band, and second and third only to "the greatest of all fight songs," have to be these chestnuts. Students and fans alike chop at the air during both the Imperial March and the 1812 Overture -- the latter of which is designed to honor the head coach.
6. "We ARE ND" - One of the most unassuming yet memorable cheers has got to be this one.
7. The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes - A place of quiet on an otherwise bustling football weekend can be found just east of the Golden Dome. The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes is a scaled-down replica of the famed French shrine. Each and every day, the rosary is said at 6.45 p.m. at the Grotto. A more in-depth look at the history and spiritual side of the Grotto can be found here.
8. Friday Tunnel Tour - Each football Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., fans are invited to walk through the very same North Tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium that players have for the past 81 years. Don't plan on stealing stratagems, however. The Tunnel Tour does not operate during team drills and walkthroughs.
9. The Cheerleaders & Leprechaun - The duties of the Irish cheerleaders and Leprechaun go far beyond the Saturday sidelines. Beginning with their 4 p.m. Friday appearance at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore, their weekend is pretty well-spoken for. Following the bookstore, they are— of course — an integral part of the evening pep rally. In the morning, about four hours before kickoff, they will criss-cross the ND community, getting folks ready for another football Saturday. Finally, they will lead the band procession to Notre Dame Stadium — where the real work begins. One must be careful; that Leprechaun can be a little testy.
10. The Golden Helmet - Though modern technology has resulted in a painting process that no longer sees ND student managers painting the iconic helmets each week (as seen in the film "Rudy") — the same process has resulted in a helmet that is much more true to the color of the Notre Dame Administration Building, better known as the "Golden Dome." The more professional, hands-off process nonetheless still incorporates 23.9-karat gold flakes from the aforementioned Golden Dome in the painting process. More about the history and development of the renowned ND helmet can be read here.