With my bags packed and wake-up call set, I’ll spend Labor Day traveling a little over 5,000 miles as I head from Dublin back home to Manhattan Beach. I’m a terrible traveler — constantly getting too hot, too uncomfortable, too claustraphobic in a plane I can never sleep on — and the idea of 13 hours in the air tomorrow on a national holiday is hardly ideal. Yet after one of the best weeks in my life, it’s hard to complain, as everything about this trip to Ireland was terrific.
With 40,000 (mostly Irish) fans descending on Dublin, it was a surreal time seeing and meeting so many Notre Dame people so far from home. With the popular Temple Bar section of town continually invaded by Irish fans donning every piece of Notre Dame apparel possible, every evening (and just about every afternoon, too) was spent popping in and out of pubs, talking ND football, and hearing how excited everybody was to be a part of this experience. I’m certain I’ll never pay five or six euros again for a pint of Guinness, but the entire trip felt like a celebration of what’s right about the university, and it was a terrific example of what makes Notre Dame special.
Hundreds of hours of preparation went into making this trip possible, and for players, support staff, coaches, band members and administrators, this was a herculean endeavor that unfortunately probably felt too much like a business trip. Those sleepless nights paid off though, as the Fighting Irish certainly did their namesake proud on and off the field, and ND Nation made an equally impressive showing as they infused quite a bit of much-needed cash into the struggling Irish economy.
There might not be another college football program in America that can pull of what Notre Dame just did. As someone who was lucky enough to call this a business trip as well, I just wanted you all to know I was grateful to be your eyes and ears in Aviva Stadium.
(And maybe a few pubs, too…)