Ireland receives more than 40,000 overseas visitors for ND-Navy game in Dublin
Peter Breen | Monday, August 28, 2023
Fighting Irish football fans of every living generation journeyed across the Atlantic Ocean to see the Blue and Gold take on the Naval Academy in the Emerald Isle on Saturday for the Aer Lingus College Football Classic.
Notre Dame played Navy in Dublin once in 1996 and again in 2012. This time, the Irish beat the Midshipman by 39 points at Aviva Stadium, which is the home of the Irish Rugby Football Union and the Football Association of Ireland.
Organizers told the Associated Press that the event was expected to have an impact of around 150 million euros on Ireland’s economy. Supporters from both schools flooded the pubs around Dublin on gameday, and many included the match as part of a longer visit to the country.
More than 40,000 overseas visitors attended the contest, according to the Irish Times.
Alex Haas, a junior from Cincinnati who flew to the game out of Chicago, said she was meeting up with her mom and brother in Dublin.
“We’re staying in an Airbnb about a 10-minute walk from the stadium in the center of Dublin,” Haas said.
Haas and her family planned to spend a whole week in Ireland, touring spots such as the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin and the Cliffs of Moher on Ireland’s west coast.
Because the semester just started and so many other students were going to the game — including seniors, the band and athletes on the cheer, rugby and football teams — Haas said she wasn’t too worried about missing a few days of class.
“I’m trying to get my books right now, but I’m honestly not even really thinking about [school],” Haas said from the international terminal of Chicago O’Hare. “I emailed all my professors, and they were all pretty chill.”
Dublin locals Adrian Lang and Daniela Garau, an artist, booked a section of fence along St. Stephen’s Green, a public park in Dublin’s city centre, to peddle Garau’s paintings to fans around game time Saturday.
Garau said she sold art to tourists all throughout the summer, and she noted the energy of those from the U.S. in town lately for the Notre Dame game.
“They are very cheerful, and they love art,” she said about the Americans who stopped by to shop.
According to Lang, the Irish people are much more invested in the sport of rugby compared with American football. However, Lang said he and his fellow Irishmen have always known about Notre Dame since they were kids.
“I don’t want to say [people from Ireland] will be more on the side of Notre Dame, but probably,” Lang said. “The Fighting Irish — our name is in it. No disrespect to Navy though.”
Brain Short, a “double domer” from Minneapolis who graduated in 1972 with a bachelor’s in economics and went to the law school, said he and his wife have gone to see Notre Dame play Navy in Ireland all three times.
“I’ve never met friendlier people,” Short said of the Irish. “Every cab driver that we’ve had, save one, was remarkable, had great stories and was very engaging, very friendly.”
Short had good things to say about everyone, including Navy fans, who swarmed the streets of Dublin for the match.
“Walking down the street, I bumped into three of my law school classmates,” Short said.