The Fighting Irish

How Ursuline Almost Lost “The Fighting Irish” Nickname

fighting_01_12Ever since Ursuline became involved in inter-scholastic sports, it has been known as “The Fighting Irish.” Perhaps it was a natural outgrowth of the association of “Irish” with “Catholic,” even though the Ursuline Order was founded by an Italian nun and established in this country by the French.

However, in the late 1930’s our nickname came very close to being changed. Here’s the story. There were some voices of dissent by some of the non-Irish families who resented being referred to as Irish. Therefore, an honest attempt was made to change the name. An ad hoc committee was formed to consider ethnically-neutral names. A compromise was settled upon. An interim nickname would be used: the Irish Terriers.

fighting_02_12Father Conry, the principal, gave his approval. The next stop was to inform the Press (the word “Media” had not yet been invented). A meeting was set up with Frank Ward, sports editor of The Vindicator. When told of the proposed change, Mr. Ward said, “Gentlemen, you can use any nickname you want, but as long as I’m the sports editor of The Vindicator, Ursuline will be known as the Fighting Irish.” And, that was the end of the “Irish Terriers.” The Fighting Irish had survived.