The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) has responded to the recent media frenzy concerning reports that a poll has found the Notre Dame Leprechaun mascot and the nickname 'Fighting Irish' offensive.
The AOH, the largest and oldest Irish Catholic organization in the US, has released a press release following a survey that voted the University of Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish Leprechaun mascot as the fourth most offensive football team mascot.
The survey was conducted by the Illinois-based company Quality Logo Products and has received a strong amount of backlash, including from the University of Notre Dame which quickly defended its use of the famous Fighting Irish Leprechaun mascot, pointing to the institution's Irish and Irish American heritage.
In a statement issued by its National Anti-Defamation Chair, the AOH said, "It is with a mixture of disbelief and despondency that the Hibernians read today headlines 'Notre Dame leprechaun considered offensive, according to survey' in multiple newspapers and media outlets.
"This media-manufactured controversy stems from a poll conducted by a T-Shirt printing company that allegedly concluded that the Notre Dame Leprechaun logo and the nickname of 'Fighting Irish' are offensive.
"The AOH cannot help but question why major news outlets have suddenly bestowed upon Quality Logo Products Inc. of Aurora, Illinois, the gravitas of the Gallup poll. It is also noteworthy that Notre Dame finished fourth in the survey, yet it is the focus of the headlines.
"When has 4th place ever accorded such notoriety? Sadly, this 'controversy' seems to have more to do with a strategy by some media outlets to prioritize titillating headlines over the story's substance (or lack thereof) to garner mouse clicks, retweets, and shares than any actual outcry of offense.
"Sadly, it appears that some seek to weaponize the Notre Dame Leprechaun as part of the continuing debate over sports team names and mascots. Lost on these misguided individuals is that unlike depictions of Native Americans, the Leprechaun is a mythical creature, not an alleged archetype of a group of real human beings.
"The Leprechaun is a beloved figure of Irish folk law, not history. As to the sobriquet 'the Fighting Irish', most accounts trace it back to the early days of Notre Dame's sports program when anti-Catholic sentiment in America was high. The fight against such hate is a fight well worth fighting, then and now, and it is a nickname to be proud of.
"It is disappointing that the media is chasing claims of offense concerning Notre Dame's mascot as illusory as the Leprechaun's crock of gold while ignoring the clearly defaming items that can be bought at Amazon and other retailers; items with phrases such as 'Irish Today, Hung Over Tomorrow' or 'Kiss Me I'm Irish, Drunk' or whatever. Those items are truly offensive, no survey from Quality Logo Products Inc needed."
Quality Logo Products appears to have since scrubbed the ranking of the "offensive" football mascots, including the Fighting Irish Leprechaun, from its blog.
An update posted on August 25 reads: “The views and opinions expressed here are those of the survey participants and do not reflect the official opinion or positions of Quality Logo Products, Inc. In response to recent feedback, Quality Logo Products has amended this post.”
According to the University of Notre Dame, university president Rev. Matthew Walsh, C.S.C., officially adopted “Fighting Irish” as the Notre Dame nickname in 1927.
In 1965, the Leprechaun became the official mascot of the University of Notre Dame. Prior to then, Irish terriers served as the university's mascots.