Willie Lynch

2016 Grand Marshal

Photo of Willie Lynch, 2016 Grand Marshal

Willie is an Irish immigrant from Cabra West, Dublin and is the youngest of 8 children – 7 boys and 1 girl. Willie’s mother was Lily McDonald Lynch, who was often called “Lily Mac” and raised the children on her own. Twenty-five years after being born in the front bedroom of a cozy two-bedroom home, Willie left from the back bedroom twenty-five years later for America. He and his Mum always had a close bond and she supported him as he pursued his dream of being a musician.

At the age of 14 Willie left St. Finbar’s School 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.

When Willie was in his mid-20s, he had taken his music in Ireland as far as it would go. He decided to go to America to visit 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. Louie found Willie some construction work but after three months, Willie had a guitar back in his hands and got his first gigs in the Lyon’s Den in Hillside and in Doyle’s in Kearney, which lasted eighteen months. From there, he played at Morley & McGovern’s in Roselle Park, and for eighteen years played on Thursday nights at Jack O’Connor’s in Bridgewater, NJ. One Thursday night, twenty-five 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.

Willie’s original plan to go to West Germany quickly changed in January 1972. While having a pint after work with a friend at Morley & McGovern’s in Roselle Park he noticed two lovely women at the end of the bar. Their names were Beverly Burke and Sue Cadigan. Bev is Willie’s wife of forty years from Elizabeth, NJ, and Sue Cadigan was their Maid of Honor and a dear friend to this day.

Bev and Willie had three kids, lived in Roselle Park and then moved to Whitehouse Station, NJ in 1982. There they had a fourth child and raised their family. Willie and Bev’s children are Liam, Marybeth, Katie and Brian. Liam, who is in the FDNY, and his wife, Kristin, have two children named Liam and Madeline. Katie and her husband, James, have two little girls named Lily and Grace. Willie lives very simply for his family, friends and to play music.

The AOH Committee unanimously voted for Willie to be the Grand Marshall for this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. Upon hearing the news, Willie was surprised and didn’t know what to say. He is always playing his music in the background while others are honored. He just can’t believe he was picked!

Willie’s love of music and people as well as his dedication to “keeping the Irish tradition alive in America” remains his motivation to play music 40+ years later! He is still having a ball and hopes you and your families are as well! When on stage, Willie will often say “we will all be dead long enough” as he encourages his fans to kick back and have fun! So after the parade celebration you are invited to join the Willie Lynch Band at Willie McBride’s in Branchburg, NJ. Willie and the band hope to see you there on the dance floor as the celebration continues! God Bless.

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