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The Irish in Ireland: Day Two, Part 2

Aug 31, 2012, 11:12 PM EST

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Following the walkthrough, the Irish grabbed a quick lunch and hopped on double-decker buses for a tour of Dublin. Driving through the historic city, it was a special moment for everyone, as this weekend marks the first time in Ireland for most of the student-athletes. During the tour, many of the Irish players snapped pictures and took videos, soaking in the once-in-a-lifetime experience of Dublin.

While on tour, the guide taught the popular Irish tune, “Molly Malone,” though he seemed a bit disappointed with the singing performance. But hey, it sounded much better the second time around.

After the buses, the Irish got a quick tour of the famed Dublin Castle, where Fighting Irish Digital Media talked to graduate student offensive linemen Mike Golic Jr. and Braxston Cave about the experience thus far.

At the 1:24 mark of the video, one Irish alum approached Troy Niklas, asking for a picture with the sophomore tight end. The woman did not know his name, but when he introduced himself, she exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, I’m from Servite!” (Troy attended Servite High School, in Fullerton, Calif.). How’s that for a “Notre Dame is everywhere” story?

But truly, that was just the beginning of an afternoon filled with blue & gold.

While the Irish headed back to the team hotel, the FIDM crew spent some time in the Temple Bar district, chatting with Notre Dame (and Navy) fans who have taken over the popular spot during the last few days.

It’s hard to explain how special the atmosphere has been in Dublin’s cultural center – it feels as though words cannot even do it justice – but hopefully this video gives you a taste of what’s been going on here in Ireland.

This evening, 9,000 fans gathered at The O2 for the spectacular “Notre Dame: A Welcome Home” event. In partnership with The Gathering Ireland 2013, the rally featured The Band of the Fighting Irish, the Notre Dame Folk Choir, and a slew of other performers. In addition, University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. and Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick spoke with Miriam O’Callaghan, the show’s host. There was also an appearance from comedic actor Martin Short, whose two sons graduated from Notre Dame.

The show was broadcast in Ireland, streamed on YouTube and now available on demand.

It has been truly remarkable to see how many fans – mostly Irish, but many Midshipmen too – traveled across the pond for tomorrow’s game. Earlier tonight, while taking a cab back from the downtown area, the driver said to me, “I’ve never seen so many Americans in Dublin…ever.” I’ve heard estimates of anywhere from 30,000 to 35,000 – the most Americans to ever to leave the United States for a single day sporting event in history.

It’s been an incredible weekend for Notre Dame fans thus far, and the anticipation comes to its summit in just about ten hours – Christmas in September for college football fans.

Certainly an exciting time – “after all, there’s only one more sleep ’til Christmas” – so said the great Kermit The Frog/Bob Cratchit in A Muppet Christmas Carol.

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