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
Since 1931, the Fighting Irish have entered the field from the North Tunnel to the adulation of fans.
2. The Student Section
The student section stands in the northwest corner of the stadium, where field pads read, "We Are ND." Students stand throughout the entire game, screaming along with every cheer, dancing the jig, or doing push-ups matching the Irish score on every touchdown to show support for their classmates on the field. Whether the Irish are up on their opponent or down, Notre Dame students provide their full support until beyond when the clock hits zero. Notre Dame students take their football seriously and make their presence known at home games.
3. "Hike, Notre Dame"
Music is a big part of Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football. The Notre Dame Victory March was written in 1908 by two Notre Dame graduates, Father Michael Shea and his brother John, and it was first played at Notre Dame on Easter Sunday in 1909. Notre Dame Band Director Joseph Casasanta skillfully arranged the piece to sound the way we hear it today.
Casasanta went on to compose the alma mater, Notre Dame, Our Mother, and the other famous Notre Dame football songs, Hike, Notre Dame, When Irish Backs Go Marching By, and Down the Line. Robert F. O’Brien, director from 1952 to 1986 added Damsha Bua (the Victory Clog). Later, director Ken Dye composed the Celtic Chant.
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.
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 pm at the Grotto.
8. Friday Tunnel Tour
Each football Friday from 10 am to 5 pm, fans are invited to walk through the very same North Tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium that players have for the past 81 years.
9. The Cheerleaders & Leprechaun
The duties of the Irish cheerleaders and Leprechaun go far beyond the Saturday sidelines. Beginning with their 4 pm 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.
*Origianlly published in 2012, updated in 2022.