Notre Dame GAA attends the MacGill Summer School

Author: Fionn Barr

Magill Lineout 800x1200

Notre Dame Gaelic Athletic Association President Fionn Barr ’25 writes about his club's trip, in August, to Ireland’s northern counties. In particular, the students attended the annual MacGill Summer School which, in 2023, was organized in association with the University of Notre Dame. 

This past August, representatives of the University of Notre Dame GAA club spent a week in Ireland participating in the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Donegal. MacGill is an international forum for thought leaders to discuss the critical issues facing Ireland, Europe, and our world. During this week-long conference, we attended talks on a wide range of topics, including Irish reunification, the Russia-Ukraine war, sustainable development, and the work of Brian Friel. The opportunity to listen to key leaders on these issues was exceptional and, as a group, we learned a lot.

In addition to the summer school, we took a day trip to the Giant's Causeway and also to the city of Derry, a personal highlight of the trip as I had the opportunity to show the team around my hometown. We enjoyed an afternoon walking the city walls, exploring the city centre, and learning about Bloody Sunday (1972) in the Museum of Free Derry. To top it off, we played two challenge games against Naomh Conaill, a local team in the Glenties and the defending Donegal senior football champions. The team had a blast; the opportunity to play games in Ireland was an invaluable, unforgettable experience for the team.

GAA students at MacGill Summer School (Aug 2023)
Members of the Notre Dame GAA team with Mr. Joe Mulholland, the founding director of the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, County Donegal.

The trip was a tremendous success and a huge leap forward for our club. Between this trip and our walkout with our national trophy during the ND-Navy game, the Aer Lingus College Football Classic played in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on August 26, our club is taking great strides forward and seeing fantastic growth. I’d like to firstly thank our chaperones, Ryan Ayres and Omar Al Jamal. Both were terrific and we couldn’t have asked for anyone better. Their support and mentorship throughout the week was very much appreciated. I also extend my deep gratitude to the staff of the Keough-Naughton Institute and our faculty advisor, Mary O'Callaghan, for facilitating this trip; we couldn’t be more appreciative.

It was a remarkable experience and one that the members of NDGAA will not soon forget.


Giants Causeway 600x800
The team explore the Giant's Causeway, County Antrim.

“Keough-Naughton's generous support enabled NDGAA to return home victorious from the National Championship last year. This has led to exceptional experiences for the members of the club from the walkout during the Aer Lingus Classic in Dublin to ESPN's Gameday invitation. Club members have also been invited to give presentations at various ND events. KNI's invitation to NDGAA students to attend the MacGill Summer School this year demonstrates that the University's commitment to intellectual inquiry and engagement for Notre Dame undergraduates remains unrivaled.” — Mary O'Callaghan, Assistant Teaching Professor of Irish Language and Literature and Undergraduate Advising Dean in the College of Arts and Letters.

“Traveling to Glenties for the McGill Summer School was an amazing educational experience. Being able to learn about both local and international issues through unique perspectives was insightful and thought-provoking.” — Jane Palmer '26.

“Playing gaelic football in Ireland with Naomh Conaill club is something I'll never forget. I am so thankful for this opportunity provided to the GAA club by the Keough-Naughton Institute and the university.” — Abbey Brown '24.