Why does a university founded by a French religious order have a leprechaun as its mascot?

Notre Dame Leprechaun LogoIt didn’t always. Our sports teams have been known as the Ramblers, the Rovers, and the Irish Terriers.  But an early association between Irish Immigrants and Catholicism led to a tradition of referring to anyone from Notre Dame as Irish.  While the use of the Fighting Irish moniker dates back to the turn of the 20th century, the image of the leprechaun with fists up ready to fight, was only adopted as the official mascot in 1965. The leprechaun logo is typically only used in conjunction with the University’s athletics teams and not with the academic programs.