Kathryn Kimmell, a 2012 intern at the NFF Headquarters in Irving, Texas, and a member of the Notre Dame marching band, shares her thoughts on her part in the school's historic trip to play Navy in Ireland in September 2012.
A few weeks I go I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel to Dublin, Ireland with the Notre Dame band to support the Fighting Irish football team. From the welcoming Irish people to the exciting football game, this weekend was one that I will never forget.
Upon our arrival in Dublin, we were given only a few hours of free time before we had to begin rehearsal for the pep rally that was held at the O2 Lounge. All around the streets of downtown there were banners for the game, and even though it was a home game for Navy, there seemed to be a few more Irish fans. All of the Temple Bar district was reserved for an Irish tailgate on Saturday before the game.
On Friday, we rehearsed from 10:00 a.m. up until the pep rally which began in the late evening. The atmosphere of the pep rally was incredible, as more than 70,000 Irish fans were present. Events of the night included a welcoming speech from the Irish Prime Minister, Irish river dancing, and a musical performance featuring The High Kings and the Notre Dame Marching Band. The pep rally did indeed get everyone fired up for Saturday’s game!
As a band member and a member of the Irish community, I absolutely love game day, so you can imagine how excited I was waking up Saturday morning for a football game in Ireland. Our day began with a march through the streets of downtown Dublin in order to get the fans excited for the day’s game. Marching through the streets was amazing. It’s an incredible feeling to have thousands of people, both Irish and Navy fans, cheering for you as you march down the streets.
After the marchout and a nice lunch at the beautiful Aviva stadium, it was finally game time, and time for the band to do our job, which is help lead the Irish football team to a victory. I loved every moment of the game, from playing songs to the fans to seeing the Irish give an excellent performance. I also had the opportunity to talk to many fans at the game, which is always entertaining. There were a large number of fans who were Ireland natives and had come to the game with no knowledge about football. They enjoyed talking to the band a lot as they had no idea what was happening on the field! They for sure got a taste of what the American football experience is like! Everyone at the game had a wonderful time and will surely never forget this Irish experience!
The events after the game were just as exciting as the rest of the trip. Everyone was ready to celebrate an incredible weekend in downtown Dublin, even the Navy fans! Bars all of the Temple Bar district were packed with Navy midshipmen, Irish fans, and locals. Irish locals got to know Irish fans, and Irish fans were treating anyone and everyone from the Navy to a drink. There was definitely a bond among everyone that night that no doubt stemmed from a passion for football and the incredible experience that we all got to share.
My weekend in Ireland is definitely one that I will never forget. I loved getting to know Ireland and its people, performing for thousands of fans, and witnessing an Irish win in Ireland. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the season holds for the Irish!