Notre Dame Mascots

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the idea of mascots and team names at Notre Dame was very fluid.  Team names often changed from year to year, team to team, game to game.  Sports writers used a number of monikers, ranging from Catholics, Hoosiers, Rockmen, Ramblers, etc., sometimes varying within a single sports article, until Fighting Irish began to stick in the 1920s.  Mascots were often seen as good luck charms and Notre Dame had a revolving door of them until the 1930s.  Minim student Willie Robb was the mascot for the 1895 baseball team [GMLS 5/01] and Irish Catholic actress Sally O’Neil served as mascot for the Notre Dame vs. Southern California (USC) football game in 1926 [Los Angeles Times, “Another View of Charley Riley,” 12/05/1926].

Animals, and dogs in particular, were often used as early mascots.  A September 22, 1900, South Bend Tribune article recounts the menagerie of personal pets used as mascots:

Dad Moulton, Manager Eggeman, and Pat O’Dea Have Pets.

If Notre Dame is unsuccessful on the gridiron this fall, it will not be due to a lack of mascots, and if there is anything in variety of mascots Notre Dame will be successful.

When Dad Moulton arrived his train was a menagerie, made up of two trick dogs and canary bird — one of the dogs, a hairless Mexican, Dad intends to use as a hoodoo for opposing teams in conjunction with a black and white billy goat Manager Eggeman received from Fort Wayne.

The goat is of the stock yards variety with a records of having eaten two shirts and a pair of shoes in one morning.  He has already shown a bellicose disposition — but under the care of Moulton, who intends to train him, he may be taught to save his combativeness for the opposing team.

Not to be outdone by the trainer or the manger, [football coach] Pat O’Dea intends to send to Colorado to a friend of his who has pet kangaroos.  With this aggregation of animals, the kangaroo hurdling hedge fences, the goat bucking the line and the dogs doing tricks on the side-lines, Notre Dame should present a terrifying appearance to any antagonist.” [PNDP 3020-m-01]

An American Bulldog named Mike shows up throughout William Schmitt’s scrapbook.  Schmitt was part of the 1909 Western Championship Football Team and it could be inferred that the team considered this dog a mascot.  In Natural Enemies, author John Kryk mentioned that Notre Dame Coach Frank Longman owned such a dog (page 64), so it would make sense that the team would embrace Mike.

Mike the dog as a member of the 1909 Western Championship Football Team

The history of Irish Terriers as mascots contains a number of conflicting accounts.  “Clashmore Mike” is the name that most people today recognize, but there were a number of other other dogs who played mascot in one capacity or another for over forty years.

Alumni Hall relief of an Irish Terrier, c1980s. Photo by Brother Martinus.
In Scholastic’s 03/31/1933 issue, James Fitzpatrick supposed that the dogs are Irish wolf hounds, “but which suspiciously resemble airdales [sic Airedales].” This pre-dates Clashmore Mike, but alludes to the importance that these dogs would have for the next few decades.).
In January 1924, the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Toledo first presented football coach Knute Rockne with a new Irish mascot.  Edward Lynch, a member of the 1909 football team who had its own mascot dog, secured an Irish Terrier for Notre Dame.  Notre Dame Daily ran a contest for students to name the dog and Tipperary Terrence (“Terry” for short), based on the dog’s lineage, was the winning name.

In May 1924, Terry was hit by a car when following two students who were walking on Niles Road, and he died a few days later.  According to the Notre Dame Daily, “the need of a mascot was acute.  All the other colleges in the United States have their mascot supposed to represent in some manner the character of the school.  Terry was given to the school because it was felt that one of his breed was the best standard bearer that we could possibly have” [PNDP 3020-m-01].

The Toledo Club again donated Tipperary Terrence II to Notre Dame in time for the 1924 Army game.  Not much is mentioned of him after that.

Football Coach Knute Rockne holding Tipperary Terrence II, 1924.
Caption: “Head Coach Knute Rockne of the Notre Dame football team with ‘Terry’ the winning mascot, who will be present at the contest with the Army at the Polo Grounds.”  The South Bend Tribune noted, “Rockne regards Mascot Terry as an omen of good luck, and wouldn’t think of starting a game without having the Airedale on the scene of battle.”

Charles Otis presented Notre Dame with Irish Terrier Brick Top Shaun Rhue at the Notre Dame vs. Navy football game in Cleveland on November 19, 1932.  Shaun Rhue was prone to running away and calmly walking in the traffic of busy streets.  He disappeared for good in the spring of 1933.

Irish Terrier Brick Top Shaun Rhue wearing a football helmet, c1932.
Caption: “With affectionate regards to Shaun Rhue and the College of Notre Dame. Best hopes and wishes from Chas. A. Otis.”

In 1935, Clashmore Mike, donated by Chicago breeder William J. Butler, became the official football team mascot.  Notre Dame officials ran with the publicity of this mascot, which is probably one reason as to why he is best know today.  He had his own column in the football programs and bravely battled the Pitt panther, Army mule, and Navy goat.

Clashmore Mike entertained fans with his sideline gymnastics for years until his death in September 1945.  He was buried in Notre Dame Stadium and was succeeded by Clashmore Mike II, who was born Shannon Invader.  After Clashmore Mike II ran away in 1948, James McGarraghy of Chicago presented Notre Dame with Shannon View Mike.

An Irish Terrier dog with handler Joe Dierickx inside the Stadium, c1954.
The Notre Dame Archives has two of the 1950s dog coats in its collections — one in green and one in blue.

This is where the history becomes a bit muddy.  The 1952 Scholastic Football Review mentions Shannon View Mike and Pat and the 1953 Scholastic Football Review calls the mascot Clashmore Mike III.  A 1958 article mentions that Shannon View Mike I “became distinctly anti-social” and “had to be put away” in 1954.  Shannon View Mike II, whose registered name was Shannon View Rudy, came shortly there after.  Shannon View Mike II had a companion Pat (perhaps the same Pat mentioned in 1952), registered Castlebar Caprice, and the two of them produced three litters of pups.  “The first litter was raffled in the 1956 ND Mardi Gras Festival by the Monogram Club” and the other litters were sold to Notre Dame fans.  One male pup was retained by the University.  Apparently there was a Shannon View Mike III followed by Mascot Mike.  Mike III was named on the field during the 1960s.  [PNDP 3020-m-01]

In the 1940s, a human “Irishman” appeared at Pep Rallies, at Media Day, on the sidelines game day, and on the ND vs. Navy football program covers.  In 1960, a “Leprechaun” joined the ranks of the cheerleaders on the sidelines.  Artist Ted Drake designed the famous leprechaun logo, which was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine with new football Coach Ara Parseghian in November 20, 1964.  By the end of the decade, the Terriers had slowly faded into history.  It’s not apparent as to why — some suggest that the last dog either died or became too old and that the handlers suffered the same fate and were never replaced.

Football Game Scene – ND vs. Oklahoma, 1968/0921. Leprechaun with an Irish Terrier

Resurgence for a return to the Irish Terrier mascot began around Knute Rockne’s 100th birthday anniversary in 1988.   Marge Andre of the Irish Terrier Club of Chicago attempted to weed through the conflicting accounts to write a history of the mascot [see also PNDP 3020-m-01 for a printed version from 1988].  The efforts to reinstate the scrappy dog as mascot still exist today, albeit with no success as of yet.


PNDP 3020-m-01
GATH 24/03
GPUB 17/07
GNDL 38/04
GATH 6/71
GPHR 45/2157
GRST 3/22

6 thoughts on “Notre Dame Mascots”

  1. Bob Cahill (may he RIP) gave Clashmore Mike away some time after 1964. He knew an elderly lady in South Bend & gave it to her. (This was the Clashmore Mike that lived with me in the stadium (1961-1964). Joe Dierickx, Rockne’s brother -in- law and the stadium manager when the stadium was built in 1930 until he died, said if I was going to live in the stadium I had to take care of Clashmore. Mostly that meant running around to find him. This was the last of Clashmore Mike as the leprechaun took over from then on. I did nearly lose him once. Dierickx crew came in on a Sunday morning after a Saturday game. Clashmore wanted to run around & I figured he couldn’t get in trouble running around in the stadium. But he managed to find the gate at the tunnel at the north end open & made his escape. I thought…”how do I tell Fr. Hesburgh I lost the Irish terrier mascot. You don’t! After several hours driving around in my black VW bug, Clashmore came happily out of a clump of bushes and hopped into the back seat. Now…how do you tell Fr. Hesburgh Clashmore had just violated the 6th commandment. Well…again…you don’t!! So unless Fr. Hesburgh reads this, he still doesn’t know!

  2. Notre Dame was founded by a French priest in 1842, but during the 19th century many Notre Dame students came from Irish ancestry, as did the professed religious professors and administrators. It would be impossible to tell exact numbers as ethnicities were not recorded. Rev. William Corby, University President after the Civil War, was chaplain of the famous Irish Brigade. Rev. John W. Cavanaugh, University President 1905-1919, was very sympathetic to the cause of Irish independence. Many notable Irish men and women have visited Notre Dame, including Eamon de Valera in 1919 and William Butler Yeats several times in the early 1900s. Prime Minister Albert Reynolds and President Mary McAleese were commencement speakers in 1994 and 2006, respectively. Notre Dame continues relations in Ireland with a study abroad at the University College Dublin. While most people in Ireland do not know about Notre Dame, Notre Dame has long had a fascination with Ireland, her history, and her culture.

  3. G’Day! Notre,
    Thanks, on a related note Notre Dame calls itself the Fighting Irish, has leprechaun mascots and alleges to have Irish ties, however in Ireland (where I’m from) itself hardly anybody has even heard of Notre Dame, nevermind knowing anything about the fighting Irish.

    So does Notre Dame have any actual ties with Ireland? I know ND are going to be playing a football game there in 2012, I hope they won’t be too upset when they realise that very few Irish people know who they are!
    Keep up the posts!

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