Welcome to my Place … South Bend, Indiana

South Bend is well-known for being home to the 'Fighting Irish'

Kieran and Joanne Fahey in South Bend, Indiana

Kieran and Joanne Fahey in South Bend, Indiana

 

Kieran and Joanne Fahey have been living in South Bend, Indiana for five years. They moved there from Ballsbridge in Dublin after Joanne accepted the position of director of research communications at the University of Notre Dame. Kieran works as director of a water quality project. They have one daughter, Clodagh, and a rescue dog, Pocket.

What do you like about living in South Bend?

For a relatively small city, South Bend has a lot going on. And its size makes it easy to do things. From Broadway musicals to major concerts, such as Garth Brooks, and sporting events, such as a Liverpool friendly, there is plenty to do year-round. The city is an affordable place to live, which was a big draw after coming from Dublin.

Where is the first place you bring people to when they visit South Bend?

South Bend is well-known for being home to the “Fighting Irish” of the University of Notre Dame, which is a private, Catholic, research and teaching university. It is on a  1,200-plus acre campus and is most visitors’ first stop. Visitors can explore the numerous quads of the pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined campus, visit the famous Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes, walk the trails around the two lakes, tour the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and, finally, see the famous “Golden Dome”, the main building of campus. Tours of campus are available to visitors and, for sports fans, tours of the Notre Dame Stadium, where the iconic American football team plays, are also offered.

The top three things to do there, that don’t cost money, are ...

South Bend is located on the St Joseph River, along which there are beautiful trails for walking and cycling. Visitors can follow these trails for miles in both directions, watching kayakers and river rafters in the East Race, sampling locally grown foods in the South Bend Farmer’s Market, or watching the glow of the River Lights over the rapids at night.

There are also many “Instagrammable” locations here. Budding photographers can capture these shots by posing in front of the I Heart SB statue in downtown South Bend, holding hands with the statue honouring civil rights leader Martin Luther King Juniorr.

Finally, visitors can swim and hike along the Lake Michigan shoreline and dunes. There are many free public beaches up and down the coastline that are beautiful year-round.

Where do you recommend for a great meal that gives a flavour of South Bend?

South Bend has a number of restaurants with seasonal menus that showcase local providers and produce. Café Navarre, and Render Kitchen and Bar are two upmarket options in the downtown area, while Crooked Ewe, a local brewery on the river, provides more casual fare. The General Deli and Café offers locally roasted beans from Zen Coffee Roasters.

Further afield, there are wineries and distilleries that give visitors a taste of the area. Indiana Whiskey is an award-winning whiskey-maker that is based in South Bend and provides tours of their facility.

Where is the best place to get a sense of South Bend’s place in history?

South Bend has a strong industrial past and is most notably known for Studebaker cars, which were made in the city until the early 1960s. Visitors can spend a day touring the downtown museum campus of The History Museum, the Oliver Mansion, and the Studebaker National Museum. From wagons to plows, cars to watches, these three museums showcase South Bend’s history of innovation and entrepreneurship all on one entrance ticket.

What should visitors save room in their suitcase for after a visit to South Bend?

No visit to South Bend is complete without a stop at the Notre Dame Bookstore. Be sure and leave plenty of room for “Fighting Irish” gear for friends and family at home. The South Bend Cubs Den Team Store is another spot to pick up some local athletics gear. And, if space permits, bubble wrap a few bottles from the local distilleries and vineyards to enjoy upon return to Ireland.

If you’d like to share your little black book of places to visit where you live overseas, please email your answers to the five questions above to abroad@irishtimes.com, including a brief description of what you do there and a photograph of yourself. We would love to hear from you. 

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