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Notre Dame fan opens Irish Pub

| Monday, January 21, 2019

With its sports teams, school spirit and long-enduring traditions, Notre Dame has managed to build a fan base that stretches all over the globe.

The support for the Irish is not limited to students and professors. It includes people that neither attend nor graduated from Notre Dame, but who share an equally strong sentiment for the University. Such is the case of bartender Joseph Patrick Casey, who now owns an Irish pub in Key West, Florida.

“I became a Notre Dame fan [when] I was 6 years old and saw the golden helmets for the first time,” Casey said.

Casey said the sight of the helmets left a strong impression, as he has supported the Irish ever since. Casey is a “subway alumnus,” which is what he described as a group of Notre Dame supporters who did not attend the University but travel to watch home football games, and he said he has attended over 120 games in his lifetime.

“Notre Dame is very sacred to me,” Casey said. “I go there every September for at least four games.”

Through thick or thin, rain or shine, Casey supports the Irish. Casey once flew to North Carolina during a hurricane in order to watch his favorite team play against North Carolina State, he said.

One of the reasons behind his great admiration is the deeply rooted lore that characterizes Notre Dame, Casey said. He counts the team’s step-off and prayer as his favorite traditions since they are, in his words, “totally, totally Irish.”

“It’s one of the best things anyone can experience in their life,” Casey said. “Notre Dame is about tradition. … When [the Irish] came over in the boat, nobody wanted us here. And the building of Notre Dame just proves how strong the Irish are, and that the Irish Catholics are here and Notre Dame is a symbol of that.”

Due to his Irish Catholic pride and love for Notre Dame, Casey said he fulfilled his dream of owning a pub which is “100 percent Irish.” Casey’s pub, Irish Oak Barrel of Key West, has a Notre Dame and Chicago police officer theme. It opened on Sept. 29, 2018, and received a traditional Irish opening, Casey said, including bagpipers playing and walking down the street.

Casey said approximately 175 people attended the event, including Notre Dame alumni, members of the Emerald Society and former members of the South Bend Police Department.

Though about 1,498 miles separate Key West from South Bend, Casey said on typical game days, over 120 people affiliated with the University attend Irish Oak Barrel to demonstrate their allegiance to the Irish.

“We support Notre Dame, that’s what we do,” Casey said.

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