The Irish Guard
Each football Saturday, the Band of the Fighting Irish is led onto the field for it’s traditional pre-game salute by the celebrated Irish Guard. This group of precision marchers was formed in 1949 when then Director H. Lee Hope conceived the idea of adding color to the band while maintaining the dignity befitting the nation’s oldest university band. The Guard was meant to be impressive and as such each member was required to be a minimum of six feet, two inches tall a regulation still in effect today.
Unique in the tradition of the Irish Guard is the uniform, which was patterned after the traditional Irish kilt. According to Irish historian, Seumas Uah Urthuile, laws were introduced in Ireland about 1000 A.D. concerning the use of colors in clothing. Colors were used to distinguish between various occupations, military rank and the various stages of the social and political spectrum.
During the first few years, the Irish Guard performed on bagpipes. Performances included a variety of Irish tunes as well as several school songs. Prior to each home football game, the Guard would perform around the concourse of the stadium, as well as other areas on campus. Performing on bagpipes was discontinued around 1954.
Notre Dame Plaid
A special Notre Dame plaid was first conceived in 1966 by Director of Bands,Robert O’Brien. In 1969 drawings were presented to Frank Amussen who completed the final sketches. One design was basically green with another design basically blue. Additional colors were added to symbolize important aspects of Notre Dame.
The design was submitted to the Court of the Lord Lyon, in Edinburgh, Scotland, on March 11, 1970. There it was examined by the Tartan Advisory Committee which confirmed that the Notre Dame plaid did not appear to be associated with any clan or name in Scotland.
The blue design was adopted by the University as the official plaid and has been trademarked and copyrighted. The colors in the plaid symbolize the following:
GREEN = the Fighting Irish
BLUE and GOLD = the colors of the University of Notre Dame du Lac
RED = the Church and the Holy Cross Fathers
BLACK = delineates the design