South Buffalo shows its love for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame
Is it any wonder that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish seem to be South Buffalo’s favorite college football team?
They have a strong historical background with Irish undertones and a tenacious nature.
The similarities with the attitudes of South Buffalo residents are uncanny, right down to the persistent, die-hard attitude that South Buffalonian’s are known for. So when the Blue and Gold finally made it to the Bowl Championship Series game last Monday, it seemed only fitting and proper that South Buffalonians would go out in droves to watch their favorite college team in their favorite places around town.
While difficult to choose a location as so many of our favorite pubs, taverns and restaurants were running specials in celebration of the national championship game, only the Blackthorn Restaurant and Pub gave the fans the opportunity to join the customs of the Notre Dame game day experience.
Notre Dame’s traditional “March to the Stadium” with cheerleaders, Irish Guard and marching band was replicated by the “Parade down Seneca Street”, a 92 step parade, complete with their own cheerleaders of sorts, politicians and marching band. City Comptroller Mark J. F. Schroeder served as Grand Marshall for the parade.
"I didn't search out the position," stated Schroeder, who is a bit of a casual historian, "but I was honored when the Lalley's and Adymy's asked me to serve as the Grand Marshall for their parade. From the 1920's to the 1960's when Kennedy was elected president, and still to this day, Notre Dame was the hard fighting, immigrant Irish Catholic team that was usually the underdog, but never gave up. They had spirit, they had their heritage, and they stood together. So naturally South Buffalonians can relate to the team. I was thrilled to be the Grand Marshall for this event."
Many of the other customs were upheld including traditional ND chants and the Fighting Irish song being played on bag pipes periodically throughout the evening by the Greater Buffalo Firefighter Pipe and Drum Band, whose members came from Buffalo, Hamburg and Orchard Park fire stations.
The Notre Dame leprechaun was imitated by a South Buffalo leprechaun, Tommy Reilly, who did push-ups on the bar each time Notre Dame scored. Owners Patrick Lalley and Hugger Adymy were on hand for the festivities.
"The parade was Hugger's idea," stated Pat Lalley, in his usual casual Lalley fashion, "They used to have a Notre Dame parade at McCarthy's for years back in the Jim Smith days, but McCarthy's stopped doing it, and Hugger wanted to bring back the tradition."
Span the wooden walls of the Blackthorn, adorned with a blackthorn walking stick and other Irish memorabilia, and you will realize why this was a favorite destination of national news reporter Tim Russert, as well as local politicians and other leaders.
The upstairs banquet area has hosted many showers and family celebrations throughout the decades, and more than one married couple can state that they met their spouse in the bar area of this establishment.
Opened as Early Times in the 70s, the restaurant changed ownership in the 90’s, changing its name to The Blackthorn Restaurant & Pub. It remains one the best locations in South Buffalo for a fish fry, homemade soup, or a pint of your favorite ale.
For the Notre Dame big game against Alabama, win or lose it didn’t matter. It’s Notre Dame. It’s South Buffalo. Nothing could feel more right than being in an Irish tavern with good friends for a game this big.