Irish Guard members reflect on new policies
Letter to the Editor | Friday, May 2, 2014
To Our Notre Dame Brothers and Sisters:
It is with heavy hearts and dimmed spirits that we feel it is our duty to inform you that the Irish Guard, which has persisted in tradition and practice for 65 years, will no longer exist in its original and intended form.
Started in 1949 by then-director H. Lee Hope, the Irish Guard marched and played bagpipes in front of the Band of the Fighting Irish. John Fyfe, a Notre Dame employee originally from Scotland, taught the original members the proper dress, marching technique and comportment that was befitting of a uniformed Guardsman. Shortly thereafter, the Irish Guard transitioned into the ceremonial protector of the band that has persisted in form and function until today.
Each fall, as new members were chosen to fill the spots of those who had graduated, they would be taught the same technique, stoicism and tradition befitting of and borrowed from the Irish Guards of the British Army.
Throughout its storied history, the Irish Guard has become a brotherhood of few men and women that aimed to serve Our Lady’s University in keeping with John Fyfe’s legacy. No other organization could claim such a strong tie back to their alma mater as a former Guardsman by participating in Inspection of the Guard at each home game. Among the requirements and expectations of members of this organization, it is understood and embraced that no one should seek public recognition for his service to our University. It is for this reason that full rosters of the Irish Guard are never printed.
However, as we approach the time when we will no longer be able to pass this tradition down to new generations of members, we feel it necessary to honor the brothers and sisters who entrusted us as stewards of the lore and legacy of the Irish Guard. We wish to publicly recognize and deeply thank all of our brothers who have gone before us and dedicated years in faithful service to Notre Dame. While we may no longer be in uniform, the threads of the Notre Dame tartan continue to bind us together, and the community of Guardsmen past and present will endure unwaveringly.
The five returning members were informed Tuesday of the band’s decision not to include them in the Irish Guard moving forward. In a decision that will change membership from a lifetime role to a one-year tenure, all of next years kilted band members have been chosen from within the current band.
We are deeply saddened by this decision and would gladly have returned to the field this fall had the opportunity been afforded us.
Knowing that the lore and tradition of the Irish Guard has persisted for 65 years, we firmly believe that there will one day be a reversion to the traditions that shaped the image and roll of the Irish Guard as a symbol of Notre Dame. Until then, we mourn the loss of yet another great tradition at this university and an end to a long line of the most valuable community of which one could be a part.
Here’s to you, lads.
St. Edward’s Hall
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.