Arts & Entertainment

Somerville Parade Committee Honors Legendary Irish Musician Willie Lynch as St. Patrick’s Day Grand Marshal

4359f3f5c6fa3164e2b8_sompixwillie4.JPG
The LOQC Academy Irish Step Dancers included Paige Boyce, Allie Campbell, Jenna Dolan, Bridget Esposito, Caroline Onderko, Jack Puluka, Julia Puluka and Maura Schaab. Credits: Rod Hirsch
17c382ede51f7a15089d_sompixwillie3.JPG
Willie  Lynch and his wife Beverly at Saturday night's tribute dinner. Credits: Rod Hirsch
656486206f1084348fce_willie1.JPG
St. Ann's of Hampton Pipes & Drums performed at the Willie Lynch tribute dinner. Credits: Rod Hirsch
c8b23b78eea05c7b12af_sompixwillie5.JPG
Irish step dancers from the LOQC academy in Hillsborough performed several routines. Credits: Rod Hirsch
a7a7b4eda7d4510d35cd_sompixwillie2.JPG
From left, dinner co-chair Sean Decker, Beverly Lynch, Willie Lynch, dinner co-chair Larry Doyle and treasurer Neil Mahoney. Credits: Rod Hirsch
0031c6d9717238347852_sompixwillie6.JPG
The Ancient Order of Hibernians presented a $2,000 check to the Somerville St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee at the Willie Lunch tribute dinner. Credits: Rod Hirsch
4359f3f5c6fa3164e2b8_sompixwillie4.JPG

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Irish eye were smilin’ and more than a few were wellin’ with tears of happiness as beloved Irish musician Willie Lynch was honored as the Grand Marshal of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Somerville.

More than 180 friends, followers and well wishers attended Saturday night’s fund raising dinner hosted by the Somerville St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee at the Somerville Elks building on Route 28 in Bridgewater.

“I bought his records when I was a young guy,” said dinner co-chairman Larry Doyle. “That’s how long he’s been playing,” he added.

Sign Up for E-News

Baritone David Long performed both the Irish National Anthem and the Star Spangled Banner.

Guests were entertained by Irish Step Dancers from the Lynn O’Grady Quinlan Connick Academy of Irish Dance, located in Hillsborough, followed by a stirring bagpipe performance by the St. Ann’s of Hampton Pipes & Drums .The Ian Gallagher Band provided dance music

The LOQC Academy Irish Step Dancers who performed at the dinner included Paige Boyce, Allie Campbell, Jenna Dolan, Bridget Esposito, Caroline Onderko, Jack Puluka, Julia Puluka and Maura Schaab..

Lynch and his wife Beverly were finally introduced and draped with their honorary Grand Marshal sashes.

Lynch told the crowd he was standing in the parking lot of a local Home Depot at 9 in the morning when he received a phone call to inform him that he had been selected as the grand marshal.

Though he immigrated to the United States from Ireland years ago, Lynch still has his distinctive Irish brogue.

“You don’t really know what to do, what to say,” he told the guests. “We’ve got people here from everywhere,” he added acknowledging friends in the crowd.

“We’ve met some wonderful people,” he continued, reflecting on his career as a musician in New Jersey and thanking his wife, children and grandchildren, who gathered for a family portrait afterwards.

One of eight children, Willie left St. Finbar's School at the age of 14 to work for the Irish Raleigh Bike Factory on the Dublin Quays. He spent his free time with his neighborhood friends who played accordions. One night, the group decided to give up the accordions and start a band. Why? Because accordions wouldn't get the girls' attention, but guitars and playing rock 'n roll would! This began Willie's life as a musician.

When Willie was first introduced to a guitar, he remarked that it just "spoke to him in notes". Willie spent a number of years playing with different bands in Ireland such as the Chimes, Creoles and the Caroline Crew. His most popular band was The Deep Set, which had the number #2 song on the Irish charts, "Hello Amy". Willie could often be found on Irish TV and radio playing with his band.

After arriving in the United States from Dublin, he settled in with his brother Louie, owner of Lynch's Emerald Pub, in Elizabeth, NJ. He planned to stay a few months and then leave to play music at the GI bases in West Germany. Though Louie found Willie some construction work, after three months Willie had a guitar back in his hands.

He got his first gigs in the Lyon's Den in Hillside and in Doyle's in Kearney, which lasted 18 months. From there, he played at Morley & McGovern's in Roselle Park, and for 18 years played on Thursday nights at Jack O'Connor's in Bridgewater, NJ.

One Thursday night, 25 years ago at Jack O'Connors, is when the first committee for the Somerset County Ancient Order of Hibernians began. Willie is one of the founding members of the Somerset AOH.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians presented the parade committee with a check for $2,000 Saturday night.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Somerville St. Patrick’s Day Parade has grown to be one of the largest in New Jersey, with crowds of 15,000-20,000 lining Main Street Somerville in past years.

Hosting a rousing St. Patrick’s Day Parade, complete with floats, pipe & drum marching bands, Irish step dancers, politicians and all the trimmings is an expensive proposition.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that it costs a lot of money,” said Pat Mannion, a past grand marshal and proprietor of Mannion’s Pub & Restaurant.

The borough’s popular St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2016, and as in previous years, the March 13 event on the Sunday prior to St. Patrick’s Day should cost $20,000., according to Mannion.     

Lacking the proverbial Pot o’ Gold, parade organizers still must pay for the marching bands, police overtime and other expenses, Mannion explained.

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Roselle/Roselle Park

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_e6588c45380c2d3828e0_art_night

Thu, February 22, 6:30 PM

Elizabeth Public Library 3rd Floor Classroom, Elizabeth

Art Night for Adults

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_b59229b3972266545812_magnet_fundraising_auction_2018_flyer_0219

Fri, February 23, 6:30 PM

Union County Vocational Technical Schools, West Hall Cafeteria, Scotch Plains

Union County Magnet High School Silent Auction

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Roselle Community Group to Examine the 'Cost of Being Black in America'

February 17, 2018

ROSELLE, NJ - The Roselle-based community organizing group Community Acting Now will examine the book “The Black Tax: The Cost of Being Black in America" by author Shawn D. Rochester as part of a commemoration of Black History Month.

The discussion will take place Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Anthony Amalfe Community Center, 1268 Shaffer Ave., from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event is ...

“Hidden in Plain Sight” - A Presentation Centered Around a Teen’s Bedroom 

ROSELLE, NJ - Parents, grandparents, caregivers, when it comes to your children and drugs, do you know where to look? Do you know what you are looking for? You may be surprised at what is "Hidden in Plain Sight."

The Roselle Everett Hatcher Prevention Coalition and Prevention Links invite all parents, grandparents, caregivers, teachers and other adults to have an opportunity to ...

Update: Health Authorities Still Investigating Flu Death of Elizabeth Schoolgirl

February 19, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - The New Jersey Department of Health is continuing to investigate the cause of the passing of Daniela Genaro who attended Nicholas LaCorte - Peterstown School No. 3 after it was confirmed that the student had been diagnosed with influenza. Officials say, it "presently remains unclear whether or not the virus was the primary contributing factor to the child's ...

Another Holiday, Another Encounter with Marine Life along Jersey Shore

February 19, 2018

SPRING LAKE, NJ — In neighboring Spring Lake, a baby seal made its way onto the beach near the north end pavilion early this afternoon.

Photographer Nancy Orlowski discovered the harbor seal pup near the jetty situated just south of the pavilion on Ocean Avenue at Ludlow Avenue.

The seal’s Presidents Day appearance on February 19 comes one day after a whale was spotted off the ...

Colleen Mahr Has Paid Her Dues, Earned Peoples’ Trust, and Left a Track Record of Success

February 20, 2018

Dear Editor:

As a 26-year-old Scotch Plains resident who cares more about the well-being of our town than about local politics, I am extremely disappointed that the Scotch Plains Democratic Committee leadership has decided to abandon Colleen Mahr in her run for Chair of the Union County Democratic Committee.

Mahr, who as Mayor of Fanwood for 15 years has worked closely with Scotch Plains ...

Sixteen at-risk youth celebrate one year of stability and new beginning

February 16, 2018

Young people living within New Jersey's child welfare system face daunting odds – often moving from foster family to group home to support program yet never finding their place, sometimes traveling with their belongings in a plastic garbage bag.

"The analogy is not lost on them," said Tanya Johnson, senior assistant executive director, youth services, at the nonprofit ...

Female Boxer Dog Found in the Chandler Ave. Area of Roselle

February 20, 2018

ROSELLE, NJ - A female boxer was found on East 7th Ave. near Chandler Ave. and given to police on Feb. 16. The dog was later transported to the Newark Humane Society where it will be on hold for the owner to claimer her.

Officials from the Humane Society say that the dog is a senior dog and very sweet. If the owner does not claim her, she will be available for adoption on Feb. 24. She is in ...

Super Carb Diet by Bob Harper

Super Carb Diet by Bob Harper with Danny Pellegrino (St. Martin's Press, 2017)

It's hard to go on a serious diet, one on which you expect to be successful and maintain a loss. Fortunately, in his new book Super Carb Diet, Bob Harper has given the weight watching world a sensible new diet plan to help achieve a healthy weight.

Harper, host of NBC's popular show The Biggest Loser, ...

Two Nights by Kathy Reichs

Two Nights by Kathy Reichs (Bantom,2017)

How does a writer of a beloved series like Harry Potter or Temperance Brennan break out of their readers' expectations and try something new? For J.K. Rowlings it was the novels penned under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith; books about a maimed and very flawed private detective with the unlikely name of Cormoran Strike. For Kathy Reichs, it is the ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...