Campus Life

 Clashmore Mike’s finest moment. Standing tall against the formidable Army Mule.

Clashmore Mike’s finest moment. Standing tall against the formidable Army Mule.

 

Campus Life this month features an article entitled, “Clashmore Mike – Irish Mascot.” It’s by student James F. McCarthy  and was printed in September 1945. (Courtesy of the University of Notre Dame Archives)

Two familiar figures were absent from the Notre Dame football scene this year. One was scrappy little Clashmore Mike, the spunky Irish Terrier, who, as team mascot for the past decade, had captured the attention of football fans throughout the nation. On Monday, Sept. 17, less than two weeks before the 1945 grid season opened, Mike's body was found on the campus by a caretaker and buried in the Notre Dame stadium where the mascot had begun his illustrious career.

The other notable missing from the Irish camp this year was Mr. Dan Hanley, Mike's trainer, who after 17 years of service with the University, was confined to Healthwin, no doubt remembering his colorful days with Clashmore and looking forward to the time when he could again train a mascot to win fame with the Fighting Irish.

It was back in 1935 that a terrier, then an eight-week-old pup, arrived on the Notre Dame campus. Presented to Head Coach Elmer Layden by a Chicago kennel-owner, the pup was turned over to Dan Hanley for training as a mascot. Mr. Hanley named the dog Clashmore Mike after a famous Irishman, and then set about the difficult task of providing the young mascot with his famous repertoire. With the aid of a broken bar, the frolicking puppy was taught to clear two feet. As the weeks passed the bar was raised, the result being that as the season opened a vivacious terrier was taking the high hurdles with ease.

A victorious encounter with the Pitt Panther marked Mike's debut. Clashmore, in a lively mood that day, quickly went after the strange denizen of the East. To the glee of fans who packed Notre Dame stadium, the aggressive Irish Mascot literally made the fur fly, and a worried student wearing the panther hide made a hasty retreat to the Pitt bench.

Mike showed his fighting spirit many times afterwards, especially one Saturday afternoon in 1941 against the Navy goat. Apparently the nautical atmosphere aroused Clashmore somewhat, for he strained angrily at his leash as Mr. Hanley led him before the thousands who jammed Municipal Stadium in Baltimore that day.

Suddenly an accident occurred -or perhaps it wasn't an accident. Mr. Hanley tripped, dropping the leash, and Mike raced in the direction of Bill, renowned Navy goat. Dust flew as the two mascots captured the crowd's attention. It was dog and goat in a battle royal. But the goat soon retired from the fray, and the game little terrier trotted off happily with another victory to his credit.

Not long after the game, a letter came to the University addressed to Mike in care of his trainer. The letter reads as follows:

Baltimore. Maryland

 

Dear Clashmore Mike :

I suppose you get lots of letters from your fans. I would like to be one of them. I saw you were at the Notre Dame-Navy game. I thought you were very brave the way you went after the Navy goat.

Mike, if you have any autographed pictures, I would dearly love to have one. I am sure you must have lots of requests for them. Well, here's wishing the best o' luck to you and your team.

As ever your ardent fan,

Mary Kiehne.

 

According to records, it was the only letter the colorful Clashmore ever received. Incidentally, Mary got the picture.

Hostilities between Mike and the goat were renewed the following year. Ignoring hurdles which had been set up for him, Mike again tangled with the Navy mascot. The battle raged as in the previous year and, to the displeasure of the Midshipmen and the goat, Mike once more emerged victorious.

The same year, Army's mule fell before fiery Clashmore. Mike chalked up another victory, and with it a rivalry that existed down through the years.

Mikes' predecessors were two in number. As legend has it, the first was a bulldog who, carrying a football in his mouth, entered the stadium in advance of the 1924 team. [Editor’s note: This is probably an inaccuracy, because the first official mascot dog was Tipperary Terrance, but the 1909 team photo shows captain Red Miller holding a dog which may be a bulldog.] Following the bulldog came Shaun Ru, an Irish terrier, who lasted until 1931. That year the team had a rather rough time of it, and after an unsuccessful season Shaun Ru disappeared....

The place of the recently deceased canine warrior had not been vacant long until into the spotlight appeared Clashmore Mike II. Presented as a gift to the University from James McGarraghy, of Chicago, long a devoted friend of Notre Dame, the newcomer made his appearance on the eve of the Illinois game. A shy puppy during half-time festivities this season, Mike II tried to get the swing of things but did not quite measure up to the veteran that had gone before him.

 

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