The Shamrock Series: Much more than Football

Boston Massacre Trial

Nearly a century ago, the nation began to take notice of the large crowds regularly pouring out of subway stations in New York and other American cities to cheer on a touring college football team they had just begun to call “the Fighting Irish.” Those earliest “subway alumni” of the University of Notre Dame were turning out for a football game, certainly, but also for a festival transcending mere sport, and celebrating their faith, their heritage, and their aspirations.

Since 2009, the Shamrock Series, Notre Dame’s home- away-from-home football game series, has evoked this memory, availing the team’s fans with an entire weekend of festivities in a major American city that may include the Friday Football Luncheon, a traditional Friday night pep rally at some iconic location, Mass, service projects, a pre-game concert, academic events, and opportunities for reflection and prayer. Since the first Shamrock Series game in San Antonio, against the Washington State Cougars, Notre Dame football fans have been pouring out, if not always from subway stations, in full force to take part in the weekend events. In addition to San Antonio, the Shamrock Series has visited New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Dallas, and Indianapolis.

It was a football game, certainly, but much more was going on in Boston that Shamrock Series weekend than a mere game.

Much more than a football game was on offer for Notre Dame fans traveling to Boston on the last weekend of November for the 2015 Shamrock Series.

Leading up to the football game between the Fighting Irish and the Boston College Eagles in Fenway Park, a series of academic and service events was held in Boston throughout the weekend.

The Notre Dame Law School presented a commemoration entitled “The Boston Massacre: Re-Imagining the Trial” in Boston’s Old South Meeting House, where Notre Dame law students joined Boston College law students in arguments reenacting the Boston Massacre Trial 245 years ago and celebrating the trial’s importance as an early and enduring example of the rule of law in America. This included dressing in authentic period clothing.

The Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies presented a panel discussion among Notre Dame and Boston College faculty on “Irish in America: Immigration, Religion, Politics” in Boston Marriott Copley Place. Their discussion of the impact of the Irish on American religious and political structures and the role of the United States in the 1916 Easter Rising included a preview of the Notre Dame-produced television documentary, 1916: The Irish Rebellion.

The 350-member Notre Dame Marching Band held a public rehearsal at Boston’s Clemente Field, and followed the rehearsal with a question-and-answer session with Boston high school students.

The School of Architecture presented a discussion entitled “The Future is Here: Boston as a Model for Sustainable Urbanism” in the Old South Meeting House. Architecture and law faculty joined colleagues from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Los Angeles, in exploring the potential sustainability and public health benefits of traditional urban design.

Volunteers from the Notre Dame Alumni Association in collaboration with Catholic Charities of Boston, Fenway Park, and Aramark Food Services gathered at the Fenway Park Champion’s Club to pack and prepare some 1,500 Thanksgiving food bags for people in need.

The College of Arts and Letters and its Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities gave a presentation on “Combining Research and Practice to Serve the Poor” at Boston Marriott Copley Place, where Notre Dame economists joined administrators from Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities in discussing Notre Dame research on the improvement of humanitarian services to poor people in this country and worldwide.

As many as 3,000 registered runners competed in a 5-kilometer run through a scenic downtown course in the Boston Common. The net proceeds from the race, which also ended in the Boston Common, benefited graduate student research and teaching at Notre Dame, and the raceway featured banners with a wide range of graduate work from chemistry to painting, rocket science, and ancient history.

On game day, Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., presided and preached at Mass in Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross, and Notre Dame’s McGrath Institute for Church Life presented a “Saturdays With the Saints” lecture at Boston Marriott Copley Place, where Rev. Brian E. Daley, S.J., Catherine F. Huisking Professor of Theology, spoke on “Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Reformer: Speaking up for Catholic Tradition.”

It was a football game, certainly, but much more was going on in Boston that Shamrock Series weekend than a mere game.