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Jul 8, 2010

IRISH ROOTS: Matthew Hegarty

Dia duit!  I’d like to introduce you all to the first of many “Irish Roots” posts which I plan on writing every now and then when I feel like making use of my education as an Irish Studies minor in the Keough Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at Notre Dame, the top program of its kind in the U.S.

Notre Dame is far more intricately connected to the Irish than just through our nickname, our leprechaun mascot, or the abundance of students with surnames beginning with either O’ or Mc. (Take a look through our yearbook, it's astonishing) 

While the meaning of the words “Fighting Irish” at Notre Dame no longer share direct links with Ireland as they once did, every now and then a glimmer of those connections manages to shine through.

If you consider yourself a serious follower of college football recruiting (which I am not) you have most likely heard of Matthew Hegarty, the 6’5” 265 lb offensive tackle who plays for Aztec High in New Mexico.   You have also probably heard that Matthew recently committed to play for the Fighting Irish, accepting a scholarship offer from Notre Dame over Texas, Stanford, Florida State, and Cal Southern, among others.  What you probably didn’t know, however, is that Matthew was connected to the Fighting Irish far before he made his promise to take the field for Our Lady’s University.

Matthew’s grandfather immigrated to the United States from County Cork, Ireland (shout out to my fam in Drimoleague, West Cork!) when he was just a child.  As a newly American Irish Catholic, he naturally grew fond of the nation’s premier Catholic university.  For this man with a direct link to “The Rebel County” (as Cork is known due to its renown for breeding brave fighters and its fierce resistance against English tyranny) becoming a fan of the Fighting Irish was as natural as eating cabbage with corned beef.

Fast forward to the present, where young Matthew prepares for his future as a Fighting Irishman.  He may not realize the significance of his story yet, but maybe he will discover his role as the link that brings his family full circle from the Fighting Irish of Cork to the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

When asked why he chose Notre Dame, Matthew claimed that he “fell in love with it” and was now “totally sold” after visiting campus and taking in the beauty of our tradition and the tangible football atmosphere that permeates the air in South Bend.  Maybe his choice also has something to do with the personality of Coach Kelly, who never misses an opportunity to tell of his upbringing as an Irish Catholic in the great Irish-American city of Boston.  Kelly’s Irish “gift of gab” most certainly helped bring Matthew to Notre Dame, where his grandfather’s influence may have been awakened somewhere in the back of his mind as he came to feel at home.  No matter the reason, I’m glad to see an Irish family reconnect with their roots through Notre Dame (and as if Matthew's story wasn’t good enough, the dude looks like he is straight out of central casting for the Fightin’ Irish).

A hearty CÉAD MÍLE FÁILTE AGUS ADH MOR to the Hegarty family


  1. Love this. Reminiscent of the story about Dan Fox's grandpa getting his first job in America at ND after coming from Ireland in the 1930s.


  2. Great story! Us Boston-Irish wish the best for both Matthew and our newfound hometown hero Brian Kelly!


2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule

2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule
DateOpponent / EventLocationTime / Result
09/01/12vs. Navy Dublin, IrelandW, 50-10
09/08/12vs. PurdontNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-17
09/15/12at SpartyEast Lansing, Mich.W, 20-3
09/22/12vs. SkunkbearsNotre Dame, Ind.W, 13-6
Shamrock Series
10/06/12vs. Da UChicago, Ill.W, 41-3
10/13/12vs. TreesNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-13 (OT)
10/20/12vs. BYU Notre Dame, Ind.W, 17-14
10/27/12at Oklahoma Norman, Okla.W, 30-13
11/03/12vs. Pittsburgh Notre Dame, Ind.W, 29-26 (3OT)
11/10/12at Backup College Chestnut Hill, Mass.W, 21-6
11/17/12vs. Fake Worest Notre Dame, Ind.W, 38-0
11/24/12at U$C Los Angeles, Calif.W, 22-13
1/7/13vs. AlabamaBCS CHAMPIONSHIP
(Miami, Florida)
L, :(