The brawl ended with a dance contest
SOUTH BEND, IN–A group of Irish-Americans who were outside the University of Notre Dame protesting the school’s Fighting Irish nickname and what they referred to as offensive leprechaun mascot left the gathering with a renewed sense of understanding and acceptance of their heritage after the protest devolved into a violent drunken brawl.
“We were here for a half hour, and I started thinking that it was a shame to have so many people together and not share a beer,” says Tommy O’Flanagan, who organized the protest, claiming the nickname perpetuated the stereotype that the Irish people are an unintelligent, drunken, violent lot, “So we brought in a truckload of Guiness. In hindsight, maybe it wasn’t such a bright idea.”
Many of the protesters departed the gathering having apparently forgotten what they had come to protest in the first place. Others were more reflective.
“The name seemed like an insult before, you know?” says Flannery O’Houligan, who attended the protest, “But the drunker we got, which was the result of a series of increasingly stupid decisions, the more we wanted to fight with one another. Eventually, everyone was fighting. It actually was a lot of fun. I’ve never felt more Irish.”
Still, some of the protesters haven’t fully changed their mind on the issue.
“I never thought the idea of the Irish as fighters was demeaning, really,” says Patty O’Patterson, “But the leprechaun, that’s just too cartoonish. It is a caricature of our culture. Maybe it would be better if they did change it to something less demeaning, like perhaps basing the nickname on one of the local Indian tribes.”