HOT IRISH TIPS: A Notre Dame Fan Guide to the Bay Area


Notre Dame is among the four teams that can advance to the College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship at Levi’s® Stadium.  Mark Purdy, a longtime Northern California journalist and Bay Area 2019 contributor, offers helpful specific advice to Fighting Irish fans who follow their team to Santa Clara and are looking for things to do before the game.

Must-Attend Championship Weekend Activity:  Playoff Fan Central at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. It’s an interactive experience for those who love college football. There will be exhibits on the game’s history, as well as clinics, autograph signings and marching band performances from the participating schools—which means you are guaranteed to hear the “Victory March” live and in person at some point. Admission is $10 at the door or $8 in advance, with children under 12 admitted free if they are accompanied by a paying adult.  

Must-Visit Historic Bay Area Site: Buck Shaw Stadium at Santa Clara University. Shaw was an All-American offensive lineman and placekicker at Notre Dame for Knute Rockne’s teams from 1919 to 1921, opening holes for the legendary George Gipp. Shaw then entered the coaching ranks himself, moved west and led Santa Clara’s team during the 1930’s to two Sugar Bowl victories before being named the San Francisco 49ers’ first head coach. Santa Clara no longer plays football, but the university’s soccer field and stadium are named in Shaw’s memory. Shaw’s likeness also graces a plaque inside SAP Center as part of the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame exhibit. It can be viewed in the arena concourse during the Media Day on Saturday.

Recommended Local Hangout: O’Flaherty’s Irish Pub. Sure, it’s an obvious choice to pick an Irish bar. But the one in downtown San Jose’s San Pedro Square, just blocks from Championship Campus, is a classic. The tavern, which also offers food, was founded by Ray O’Flaherty, who was born in County Offaly and migrated to San Jose. All the furniture and fixtures in his bar were shipped over from Ireland. O’Flaherty passed away in 2013, but his spirit still infects the place. Dublin is one of San Jose’s official sister cities because of their shared high-tech focus. The Lord Mayor of Dublin has visited O’Flaherty’s on multiple occasions. Thus, you can sip a pint of Guinness in the exact spot where the Lord Mayor sat and also talk pigskin over chicken wings … possibly with an Irish rugby fan from Ireland.