DUBLIN (AP) — The Irish are a generous bunch. Now they’re giving away street names.
Notre Dame can have that effect on a city.
The Fighting Irish are in Dublin and headlining a college football game against longtime rival Navy. They’ve played here twice before but this time they’re going bigger.
Notre Dame has brought more than 30,000 fans, with at least one U.S. Supreme Court justice expected to be among them. There are business and academic summits, a pep rally at a concert venue Friday night. A Catholic Mass on Saturday is expected to draw 5,000 to Dublin Castle.
Will Ferrell, a USC alum, has been on hand for shenanigans with radio pal Dan Patrick.
Dublin has temporarily renamed Dame Street to ‘Notre’ Dame Street and will close a portion of it starting Friday night to create a fan zone in the shadow of prestigious Trinity College.
“The streets of the city are bustling today,” said Will Sadlier, a student at University College Dublin. “It’s good for the local business, the hotels and restaurants.”
Organizers estimate that the economic impact on Ireland — fans typically include the game as part of a full trip in the country — to be more than 147 million euros ($159 million).
“This is not just a Dublin event, it’s an Ireland event,” said Padraic O’Kane, co-founder with John Anthony of Irish American Events, the game organizer. “With all the business and academic events, it will be indirectly giving for years to come, and that’s what makes it so intriguing and exciting for Ireland.”
Notre Dame has twice beaten Navy in Ireland’s capital. The first time was 1996 when 12,000 Notre Dame fans attended the 54-27 win at Croke Park.
In 2012, there were 28,000 Notre Dame fans among the 48,820 to see their team win 50-10 at Aviva Stadium. Saturday’s game will have 32,000 Notre Dame supporters, as well as 8,000 from Navy, O’Kane said.
The business model — Florida State and Georgia Tech play here in 2024 — was originally based on 20,000 fans coming from the United States, 5,000 from Europe, and 23,000 domestic.
“Notre Dame broke their own record from 2012,” he said. “They’re a standout.”
Workers at an official merchandise store on Dame Street stayed busy unpacking and racking Irish and Navy gear as shoppers swarmed in Friday. Nebraska, which lost to Northwestern in Dublin a year ago, had expressed frustration at not being able to sell its own merch because of red tape. Not this year.
Plus, it’s a “home” game for Notre Dame on Saturday, so they’ll brand the stadium and design the field.
“They’ve put a lot of resources and energy into it,” Anthony said. “Their opinion was if they’re going to move a home game out of South Bend and into Dublin, then it’s still going to be a Notre Dame home game and they’re getting those benefits out of it.”
Organizers say a handful of members of the U.S. Congress are attending the game, as well as a Supreme Court justice or two.
“I’m told we should expect that there might be three at the game this year,” Anthony said, declining specifics. “We’ve been contacted with security and all that.”
The court does not comment on non-official matters involving justices.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett graduated from Notre Dame Law School, a first for Notre Dame. Barrett and Justice Brett Kavanaugh both taught at a Notre Dame law program in London this past spring.
“Yes there’s an immediate economic benefit,” O’Kane said. “But we don’t export people anymore. It’s the ’80s since Ireland’s sons and daughters had to leave to find their future elsewhere, so we need to keep that Irish-American connection.”
Notre Dame graduate Chris Tolle said the school’s alumni clubs around the world — including in the U.S. — play a big role.
“You can look somebody up and send them a note, give them a call, and most of the time you’ll get some sort of response. Most people are pretty receptive,” said Tolle, who browsed some ND gear at the merchandise store with his wife, Laura.
“It’s not a state university with 80,000 people at it,” added Tolle, a finance executive from the Houston area. “To be able to have impacts around the world with such a small population, yeah, you should be proud of that.”