The Notre Dame Bagpipe Band can trace its roots to the early 1950’s, when the Irish Guard originally came into existence as a bagpiper unit in the Notre Dame Marching Band. While the Irish Guard, with their stature and marching ability, impressed many people, their discovery that the bagpipes do not perform well in the cold that comes with the late fall in South Bend. Therefore, the bagpipes became abandoned, and the Irish Guard remained.
The bagpipes lay dormant at Notre Dame until Paul Harren, an avid bagpiper, decided to form a band in 1991. It slowly grew, doing a variety of smaller gigs and events, and constantly sticking to its mission of teaching people how to bagpipe and performing with them. The band provided most of the bagpipe sets to its players and continues to do so today. The band acquired green kilts initially for uniforms, and conscripted a few campus drummers to keep time to their repertoire.
In 2000, a talented group of freshmen with previous bagpiping experience came to Notre Dame, demonstrating a great opportunity to the band for making a giant leap forward. In the 2001 football season, the band marched for the first time, and by mid season, had acquired old kilts through the generosity of the Irish Guard. The band also began to build a drum line that played traditional syncopated bagpipe beats and began to acquire the latest in percussion equipment.
The band now has all new uniforms with kilts of their own, rising interest from people wishing to learn and join, a full complement of drummers on snare, bass, and tenor, and a new place in the game day tradition. You can always find the bagpipes around campus on game day, especially 3 hours before game time in front of the dome. But, then again, they are bagpipes, so if you are trying to find them, just listen, and follow the sound.