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|Preparation of the Notre Dame pep rally in St. Stephen's Green|
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Dublin: In the 125-year history of the Fighting Irish football team there has never been a weekend like this.
Four thousand miles from South Bend, 35,000 Irish have transplanted themselves in the heart of Dublin and indeed, all over Ireland, charming the locals wherever they go.
Walk along Dublin’s main shopping thoroughfare, Grafton Street, today and it seemed like a green invasion had begun.
In every store Notre Dame supporters and some Navy backers too, were thronging the aisles, looking for Irish bargains.
Outside the street performers were surrounded by Irish followers, and doing a roaring trade.
For many of the women shoppers, hurrying from one high-end store to another, this was their game day.
“I’m surprised I thought things would be cheaper,” Jane Byrne from Minnesota told me
”It’s easily as expensive – but it is far more fun,” she said.
All around her less discriminating fellow shoppers were buying up items like Guinness sweaters and Aran cardigans in all the usual haunts.
“It is busier than St Patrick’s week,” said the shop assistant in one.
It was the same story all over the country as the hordes of invading Americans, 35,000 in total, gave Ireland the kind of end of summer boost they could ever have hoped for.
Paddy Powers bookmakers opposite the Merrion hotel has been getting brisk business but not from the usual clients this week.
Americans are dropping in every few minutes the clerk said betting on their team to win in the Navy v Notre Dame game.
While I was there a Navy couple came in, seeking odds on Navy plus 15 points -- they got even money.
It is not news that bookmakers are winning but the Irish economy is getting a powerful boost too.
Earlier today I attended a reception at the American Ambassador’s residence in the Phoenix Park. Out in his garden Dan Rooney, the former owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, had his own football pitch where on July 4th every year there is a flag football game.
Prime Minister Enda Kenny dropped in to the pep rally at the O2 arena. 10,000 Notre Dame fans had crammed the arena and gave him a massive reception.
He called it the biggest overseas mobilization by any sporting team in American history.
Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrigg mentioned that Notre Dame has sold out every home game since 1964.
Over 300 performers were onstage between Irish and American musicians and band numbers for a finale that will not be forgotten.
A weekend to remember!
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