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With football season imminent, Notre Dame takes over Dublin

Allan Joseph | Friday, August 31, 2012

DUBLIN – Football season is just hours away.

That realization hit us this morning as we started our day back at Grafton Street to shop for some souvenirs. We can tell that thousands more fans have poured into the city – Americans are seemingly everywhere, and the sense of anticipation is palpable. The atmosphere is unlike that of any college football game in history, and it’ll continue through the weekend. 

Photo Editor Suzanna Pratt and Assistant Managing Editor Andrew Owens arrived in Dublin today, completing our contingent covering the game and its festivities (Assistant Managing Editor Sam Stryker and Multimedia Editor Sarah O’Connor have been here with me since Wednesday.) Our first order of business was filming the first installment of Irish Insider Live, our new video series analyzing upcoming Irish football matchups. After finishing our video and eating lunch, we took Andrew and Suzanna to the Temple Bar District by way of Grafton Street – and were blown away by how Notre Dame had taken over the area.

We couldn’t go 15 steps without running into someone from Notre Dame we knew. Whether they were current students, recent graduates or employees, everyone was soaking in the experience and having the time of their lives. The Temple Bar District was packed last night, and even more busy this afternoon. We can only imagine what the tailgate holds.

After dinner, we made it to The O2 for the pep rally, titled “Notre Dame: A Welcome Home.” More than a traditional pep rally, the 90-minute event consisted of artistic performances, interviews with famous Notre Dame personalities and video tributes all wrapped up into a package broadcast nationally on RTE. The 9,500-seat arena was packed to the gills with Irish fans, and the event did not disappoint.

While there were a few unintentionally hilarious moments due to crossed cultural wires (such as a video montage of victorious Notre Dame moments set to a live performance of “You Raise Me Up”), the event as a whole was a stunning production. The Band of the Fighting Irish was a crowd-pleaser as always, and the many Notre Dame-based performers (such as the Folk Choir) meshed seamlessly with their Irish counterparts in joint performances. The crowd enjoyed every moment of it, and it’s truly amazing to think the University could sell tickets for a 9,500-seat arena in a foreign country for a pep rally that didn’t even feature the coach or players – and sell out.

The main event is tomorrow, and at this point, I can’t imagine any way it could disappoint. There were some incredibly high expectations for the week, and nearly all of them have been surpassed.

Up to 5,000 spectators are expected for an outdoor Mass at Dublin Castle tomorrow, tens of thousands will be at the Temple Bar tailgate and more than 50,000 will witness the kickoff of Notre Dame’s 2012 football season.

This is one amazingly popular party.