This month's edition
of Reflections From The Dome features the story of
the Irish Terrier mascot known as
Tipperary Terrence and
Clashmore Mike. It was written in 1987.
(Courtesy of the
The story of the Irish Terrier
Mascots at Notre Dame – College football’s “winningset” mascot.
By Marge Andre of the Irish
Terrier Club of
Preface and Acknowledgments
My research into the history of
the Irish terrier mascots at Notre Dame, and my conclusions may not
be perfect, subject to continuing research, but the information
contained here is more accurate than anything published to date.
Stories and articles that have appeared in the Notre Dame
Scholastic’s, Domes, football programs and football
guides or reviews have sometimes been inadequately researched and
therefore contain more fiction than fact. Sad to say the personal
recollections of past Notre Dame administrators and sports personnel
concerning Irish terriers as mascots are often more fanciful than
This truly is a love story. It
is a story of a school's love for "God's little red dog of
Ireland", and a dog's
faithful, loyal and winning service to "Our Lady's school".
Thanks to David Sparks and
Jethrow Kyles at the Hesburgh Library at Notre Dame. Their help in
my research has enabled me to sort out the truth from much of the
Thanks to Donn Gregori whose
artistic work graces the cover and the inside back page of this
Thanks to Dr. Bernard "Bud"
McGivern. Bud was a cheerleader and handler of Clashmore Mike when
at Notre Dame in the mid 1950's. Bud is a member of the prestigious
Westminster Kennel Club of New York City, and has enlisted their
support in our reinstatement campaign.
Tipperary Terrence I. You were the
first and as such I have a very personal and special fondness for
you. Go to St. Peter and tell him I said to give "St. Patrick's Pal"
a special bone treat.
Thanks to one and all! Now
let's read the greatest success story ever written about a college
mascot -THE IRISH TERRIERS OF NOTRE DAME.
Chapter One -WE ARE NUMBER
I guess it is only fitting and
proper that Knute K. Rockne, the geatest of all college football
coaches, should have selected an Irish terrier dog as the mascot for
the University of Notre Dame's football teams. The "Rock" won 105
games while at Notre Dame and compiled an .881 winning percentage.
That ranks Rockne Number One amongst all college football coaches
who ever coached according to the NCAA. In 11 of his 13 seasons
coaching he suffered no more than one loss in any season. Six of his
teams were selected as National Champions, and Rockne was inducted
into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in the first year
of its existence.
Rockne had an almost infallible
ability to judge talent and make the right selection. His selection
of a baseball player by the name of George Gipp to play football was
one of his best. His selection of the Irish terrier dog as Notre
Dame's mascot was probably his very best! Between 1924 when the
first Irish terrier came on campus, until the almost unnoticed
removal of the mascot after the 1966 season, Notre Dame's football
teams won 12 National Championships. No other college mascot from
the leprechaun to any other animal has been mascot to so many
National Championship teams. Truly it can be demonstrated that
Rockne and the Irish terrier mascot were both NUMBER ONE at what
they did. Not bad for a “pug ugly Swede” and “God's little red dog
Chapter Two -Why An Irish
Terrier At ND?
The answer to why the" Rock"
selected an Irish terrier as mascot is open to more definitive
research. Rockne had a house pet dog by the name of Noxie, and it
was a German shepherd. Legend has it that Noxie knew or felt the
loss of his master at the exact time Rockne's plane crashed into a
Kansas wheat field on
March 31, 1931.
Since Rockne did not leave us with an answer as to why he selected
the Irish terrier, let me try to answer that question.
The Irish terrier dog and the
University of Notre Dame share much in common. They both acquired
their lofty status the hard way - they earned it! They both are
instantaneously recognizable - one by its magnificent Golden Dome
and the other by its classic sculpturesque profile. They both are
honest, loyal and loving. They both instill in their supporters an
almost fanatical devotion. The word charismatic is meaningless when
applied to other than Notre Dame and the Irish terriers. Finally,
never doubt for one moment – both are Fighting Irish! The union of
the University of Notre Dame and the Irish terrier dog is as
relevant today as it was in 1924 when Knute Rockne selected it as
the Notre Dame mascot.
Listen to what Albert Payson
Terhun said about the Irish terrier :
St. Patrick's Pal
"The Irish terrier is perhaps
the finest dog on earth. He does not throw away his priceless
devotion and loyalty on every stranger who may chirp to him. But to
the death he is the comrade and protector.
A sketch of a our hero.
He is an Irish gentleman of the
deathless old school; a fiery, true gentleman from the tips of his
braced toes to the rough thatch of his crown. He is more; he has a
heart three sizes too big for his shaggy body; a heart that is white
and clean as a Knight errants. He is no bully, but he will flinch
not one hundreth of an inch from the fight that is forced on him, be
the odds ever so impossible against him."
There is no mascot for any
college or university which is better suited or qualified to
represent Notre Dame than is the Irish terrier. For approximately 42
years the Irish terrier was the mascot for Notre Dame football
teams. During that time Notre Dame won 12 National Championships in
football. The Irish terrier is the "winningest" mascot a college
football team ever had, and it hasn't been active in over 20 years.
Chapter Three - Irish
Terrier, Four Horsemen, Seven Mules and Fame (1924)
The first Irish terrier mascot
was Tipperary Terrence and he was presented to Knute Rockne in
January 1924. Unfortunately “Terry" died as a result of an
automobile accident in spring of 1924. [Editor’s note: Terry was
struck by a car with
Nebraska license plates, no less]
He was replaced in October 1924 by Tipperary Terrence II who arrived
just in time to go to the Army game in
New York City on
October 18, 1924.
Notre Dame defeated a powerful Army team 13 to 7 on that day and
writer Grantland Rice immortalized the Notre Dame backfield with the
name "The Four Horsemen".
After the Army game the Notre
Dame football team went on to an undefeated season (10 wins and 0
losses), and the 1924 Collegiate Football National Championship. The
1924 football team is considered by most sports writers the most
acclaimed team ever assembled. In addition to the Four Horsemen (the
backfield) the team had the famous Seven Mules (the lineman).
The 1924 National Champions and ’25 Rose
Bowl champs. In the front row, center, you can see Elmer Layden holding
his buddy, Tipperary Terrence II.
After the completion of the
regular football season Notre Dame agreed to play Stanford on
January 1, 1925
in the ninth annual Rose Bowl contest in
California. Before the game, the
Notre Dame team posed for a team picture. There front row center is
one of the Four Horsemen, Elmer Layden holding Tipperary Terrence II.
Notre Dame beat Stanford 27 to 10 in that Rose Bowl. Now who do you
think was the star of that game? Why of course the holder of the
Irish terrier mascot -Elmer Layden. He scored three touchdowns on
runs of 3 yards, 78 yards (interception return) and 70 yards
(interception return). From that day forward Elmer Layden was one of
Notre Dame's biggest supporters of the Irish terrier mascot.
Great job you "red haired Irish
daredevil!" The Irish terrier mascot was to have many more glory
years at Notre Dame.
Chapter Four -The Irish
Terrier legend Grows (1924- 1930)
During Rockne's last six years
the ND football teams earned three more National Championships and
the legend of the Irish terrier mascot grew. Football programs began
to picture the terrier mascot. On
October 17, 1925
in Yankee Stadium the Army squad squared off against another Notre
Dame team. In the program is the all time classic picture of Coach
Rockne holding the Irish terrier mascot.
October 30, 1926,
Georgia Tech played at Notre Dame, and on page 26 of the program is
the Notre Dame football team posed with its Irish terrier mascot.
Southern California vs. Notre Dame program
November 16, 1929
game at Soldiers' Field in
Chicago has a picture of the ND
team with its Irish terrier mascot in the first row.
March 31, 1931,
the "Rock" was killed in a plane crash in a farmer's field in
Kansas. The fate of Tipperary
Terrence II for the time being is lost somewhere in annals of Notre
Dame publications. Rockne wouldn't go to his heavenly reward,
however, and leave us without an Irish terrier mascot. Sometime
November 8, 1930
football game against the
Pennsylvania the "Rock"
accepted from Charles Otis and Thomas Bolton of
Ohio a new mascot. This dog was
named Brick Top Shuan Rhu. What a great start for Shuan Rhu. Notre
Dame crushed one of the top Eastern schools, the
Pennsylvania, by a score
of 60 to 20. Notre Dame rolled up 557 yards in total offense to only
73 yards for
Chapter Five- Elmer Layden
and Clashmore Mike (1931-1940)
Brick Top Shuan Rhu disappeared
in the spring of 1933. In the fall of 1933 ND's football team won
only 3 while losing 5 and tying 1. Our Irish terrier mascot knew
when to leave. According to reports Shuan Rhu was a nice dog, but
had some bad habits. He would often wander away for days at a time.
A 1936 Scholastic article related how "his latest week-end
extended from the spring of 1933 until now", as if, he might yet
return. Shuan Rhu 's fatal flaw may have been his habit of sitting
in the middle of a roadway. Apparently he escaped injury or death on
many occasions because of a "driver's quick action with the breaks."
Starting with the 1934 season
Elmer Layden, one of the Four Horsemen, became the football coach at
ND. Layden as a student was a friend of the terrier mascot. So it
should be of no surprise to anyone that the Irish terrier mascot
rose to a level of prominence during his coaching tenure. His son
Elmer Jr. remembers as a boy seeing the mascot running and playing
in their backyard on Lincolnway East in
South Bend. This was probably the
Golden Age of the Irish terrier mascot. Coach Layden is apparently
the one who re-named the mascot Clashmore Mike.
The first known full time
handler of the mascot was a gentleman by the name of Dan Hanley. Dan
came to Notre Dame in 1927. He was born and raised in
Michigan which was also the home
town of the legendary George Gipp.
Dan and Clashmore Mike I were
inseparable friends. Dan was a bachelor and he lived in a neat
little room in the gym for which he was the caretaker. Clashmore
Mike I was seldom away from his side. Back in the late 1930's and
early 1940's it was a common sight to see the genial white-haired
man walking across the campus with Clashmore Mike I scampering
before him with the tinkling of a little bell around his neck
informing everyone of their whereabouts.
These two legends of Notre Dame
were truly close friends. When it came time for them to pass on they
went out together inseparable to the end.
December 7, 1945
edition of The Scholastic had this to say about Mike and his
faithful companion Dan:
"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 September 7, 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."
Layden and the Notre Dame
Athletic Department in the 30's and 40's obviously saw the positive
public relations aspect of an Irish terrier as a mascot. Clashmore
Mike posed for pictures in newspapers, football programs, Domes
and Scholastics. Clashmore Mike even had his own sports
column in football progams. This was the era when photogaphers from
the big city daily newspapers in New York, Chicago, Baltimore,
Cleveland and Philadelphia showed up to get pictures of Clashmore
Mike taking off after the Army mule or the Navy goat and chasing
them off the playing field. From 1936 through 1949 every home
football program at Notre Dame had some sort of picture, article,
cartoon or drawing of the Notre Dame Irish terrier mascot
During the 1939 and 1940 season
every home football program contained a column by Clashmore Mike
entitled: "Says Clashmore Mike " or "Over the Hurdle With Mike" or "Clashmore
In addition in 1939, '40 and
'41 the Kamms Brewery ran advertisements in every football program
with a drawing of an Irish terrier. The ad read: "THOROUGHBRED "A
real thoroughbred dog is the Irish terrier, the mascot of Notre
Dame's great football teams. A great thoroughbred beer is Kamms."
November 7, 1936
program for the Navy vs. Notre Dame game in
Baltimore there is a very
attractive pencil sketch of the head of an Irish terrier dog on
those pages where there are pictures of Notre Dame players.
When Clashmore Mike I died he
was afforded the singular honor of being buried under the turf of
Notre Dame stadium. Legend has it that if you listen and watch very
closely at home football games when the leprechaun mascot dances
over Mike's gave you can hear a low throaty growl, and the grass
over the gave stands straight up. Next time look and listen for it
and you decide whether the legend is authentic. All lovers of the
Irish terrier mascot at Notre Dame owe a deep and continuing debt to
Elmer Layden. This was the Golden Age of the Irish terrier mascot at
Notre Dame. Thanks Elmer! I hope you, Dan Hanley and Clashmore Mike
are now reunited above with the "Rock" and Tipperary Terrence I and
II in heaven above.
Chapter Six -Frank: Leahy
and A Regular Member of the Team (1941-1953)
Clashmore with two of his friends, George
Connor and Frank Leahy.
Frank Leahy, also known as "the
Coach” or "The Man” compiled a winning percentage of .864 in college
football. That ranks "The Coach" as number two behind Rockne for
winning percentage. Over his career from 1939 through 1953 he won
107 games while losing only 13 and tying 9 games. Leahy coached at
College in 1939 and 1940
before returning to his alma mater in 1941. While at Notre Dame
Frank had six undefeated teams, five National Championships and an
unbeaten string of 39 games, and the Irish terrier mascot was there
for all of it.
One of Leahy's best players was
John Lattner who was selected as an All American player in 1952 and
1953 and the winner of both the Heisman and Maxwell Trophies in 1953
as the outstanding college football player in
America. Johnny is also
one of the finest human beings God ever put upon this earth. Listen
to what John told me about Clashmore Mike and Frank Leahy.
“That Irish terrier mascot was
the toughest and most active dog I ever saw. I remember one day at
practice Clashmore Mike and I were both on the sidelines. I decided
to go up to Mike say hello and give him a pat on the head. I called
his name before I reached for him. He set his jaw firmly, fixed his
deep brown eyes in a menacing glare and the hair on the back of his
neck stood tall. I don't know what he would have done, if I had
moved my hand to touch him, which I didn't do. After that I gave
Clashmore Mike a wide berth.
"Coach Leahy had a great
respect for the traditions of Notre Dame, and the Irish terrier
mascot was one of those traditions. “The Coach” however, wanted the
Irish terrier to take a more active part in the game. Leahy had the
dog trained on a given command to run onto the field to delay the
game and obtain another time out. Now you can imagine what the
reaction of the officials was when they saw this 'red bolt of
lightening' headed right at them only to veer off at the last minute
and run to the football. Although Leahy had this plan set up, he
never really used it in a game situation.'
What was mascot Mike's life
like at Notre Dame? Well, through 1945 he lived in and around the
old gym. Although he had an outdoor dog house (painted green) he was
often in the fieldhouse with Dan Hanley. Apparently over the years
Dan had problems with Clashmore Mike's diet because students often
fed him table scraps from the dining hall. In addition Mike had a
sweet tooth and the students got into the custom of feeding him
candy. Mike was not caged and more or less had the run of the
campus. He at times failed to come back to the gym for his daily
ration of dog food because the students fed him. Thus, Dan Hanley in
a 1944 issue of The Scholastic pleaded with the students to
not feed Clashmore Mike.
It appears Mike was a traveler
and got to go to many of the road games. We know for sure he got to
visit the cities of
Pittsburgh. A dog's life it wasn't.
Let us pause here for a moment
and evaluate the success of the Irish terrier as a mascot from
Rockne who started the tradition onto Layden who first used the
mascot for public relations purposes to Leahy who upgraded the
mascot to "a regular member of the team."
Knute Rockne, Elmer Layden and
Frank Leahy won a total of 239 games, lost 36 and tied 17 for a
percentage of .848.
From 1924 through 1953 there
were 10 National Championships and the Irish terrier mascot was a
proud part of all of it. Knute, Elmer and Frank considered the Irish
terrier mascots as much a part of the traditions and legends of
Notre Dame as George Gipp, the Golden Dome and the Victory March,
and the Irish terrier mascot rewarded that confidence by being
around while ND was winning an astonishing 85% of its games. What a
Chapter Seven -Going -Going
( 1954 -1966)
Coach Frank Leahy was forced to
resign after the 1953 football season because of poor health.
Following Leahy was everyone's All American Terry Brennan (1954
-1958) who compiled a .640 winning percentage while coach at Notre
Dame. Terry was replaced by Joe Kuharich (1959 - 1962) who has the
dubious distinction of being the only Notre Dame football coach to
have a losing record (.425). After Joe, while Notre Dame tried to
figure out what happened to their football program, Hugh Devore was
named interim coach for one year. Hugh had served in that capacity
once before in 1945 while Frank Leahy was away in military service.
I wish it could be said the
Irish terrier mascot was not around during some of these lean years,
but the truth of the matter is the mascot suffered through this dark
period along with all other Notre Dame fans. That is not to say,
however, there were not some thrilling victories and excellent
teams. Terry Brennan's teams in 1954 and 1955 had
respectively. His 1956 team was 2-8-0 and had suffered a 40 to 0
loss to Oklahoma at Notre Dame, N.D.'s worst defeat ever at home. In
Oklahoma was a prohibitive
favorite to win with the game being played at Owen Field, especially
since the Sooners had a 47 game winning streak. That streak which is
still the longest ever, was ended that day. Notre Dame won 7 to 0.
Tipperary Terrence II showed up
during the 1924 season and the Notre Dame team won the Rose Bowl,
Collegiate Football's National Championship and Four Horsemen
backfield. The coach was Knute Rockne – the winningest ever.
National Championships also followed in 1927 and 1929.
Next came Brick Top Shaun Rhu
before the 1930 game against the
Pennsylvania. That day
they beat a strong Penn team 60 to 20. That was another National
Championship. The 1931 Dome wrote about that game. "It was the most
decisive trouncing that the Irish has handed out since the team
stopped playing teachers' colleges a number of years ago." The 1929
and 1930 teams were "his best teams ever" according to Rockne.
Next comes Clashmore Mike I in
1935 and Notre Dame beats
State in that fabled,
unbelievable comeback. National Championships are achieved in 1938
Another Clashmore Mike or two
were regular members of Coach Leahy's teams of 1946, 1947, 1948 and
1949 when there was not one defeat suffered by Notre Dame football
teams, and the Irish won three more National Championships.
Johnny Lattner led the 1953
team to a National Championship by dodging tacklers and Clashmore
Mike alike. When
Oklahoma's streak of 49 unbeaten
games (the longest ever) was chewed up in 1957 Clashmore Mike was
the Irish mascot..
In Ara's first year of 1964
there was another National Championship. Finally, when Ara
Parseghians 1966 team slaughtered the USC Trojans 51 to 0, and were
acclaimed the "best ever", Mascot Mike was the Irish's lucky charm.
This was another National Championship team.
That was the end of the line
for college football's "winningest" mascot with 12 National
Championships earned while the Irish terrier dog was at Notre Dame.
He was to be replaced by a registered trademark on paper of a
leprechaun in a fighter's pose. Who in their right mind would make
the mistake of trashing our beloved Irish terrier mascot?
Chapter Eight -Gone and 66
losses (1967 -1987)
Ara and Clashmore, and I believe team
captain Jim Carroll.
For the past 20 years the Notre
Dame football teams have been without an Irish Terrier mascot. Ara
Parseghian left and was replaced by Dan Devine who left and was
replaced by Gerry Faust who now has also departed. Lou Holtz is the
latest of the leprechaun mascot coaches. In the 20 years since the
retirement of the Irish terrier mascot Notre Dame's football teams
have suffered 66 losses. Coaches Rockne, Layden and Leahy only
suffered a total of 36 losses in their combined careers at Notre
Dame which covered a span of 31 years. The mascot for these legends
of Notre Dame was the IRISH TERRIER. No more needs be said about the
years 1967 through 1987.
Chapter Ten -Irish Terrier
Returns ( 19??)
The Irish Terrier returns?
Oh yes, the Irish terrier is
returning to the University of Notre Dame as her mascot. There is no
doubt about it. It is only a matter of time. It may take until the
21st century, but it will happen!
Why will the Irish terrier
mascot be reinstated? The mascot will return because the fans,
alumni and students want the Irish terrier to return. There is a
rising tide supporting the return of the Irish terrier, and they
will begin to be heard by the administration at Notre Dame. As more
of the history of the terrier mascot is publicized, and I hope to
publish a book on the subject in 1988. Notre Dame fans increasingly
feel a great sense of loss. Our mascot will return because it never
should have been abandoned.
Be prepared. Some morning when
you are half awake and open the morning newspaper the headline will
jump off the page.
IRISH TERRIER BACK AT ND!
If I were the athletic director
of the next college to play Notre Dame, and read that headline, I
would cancel and forfeit the game.