The biggest St. Patrick’s Day parade on Long Island is this weekend, and will be led by a very proud Irish-American — Michael Dunphy.
Dunphy was named grand marshal back in September. Past grand marshals have been John Murray Jr., owner of Mulcahy’s Pub and Concert Hall, and Patrick Ryder, Nassau County Police Commissioner.
Both Murray and Ryder are of Irish descent, but born in the United States. Michael Dunphy was born in Macroom in County Cork, Ireland in 1941. He came to the United States in 1969, and moved to Wantagh in 1973. He opened the Wantagh Inn, a staple of the hamlet, in 1984.
At the Grand Marshal dinner on March 7, the torch was officially passed to Dunphy from Ryder in a special ceremony at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. The ceremony honored Dunphy’s years of service to Wantagh, helping to give Wantagh the strong sense of community it has.
“The Wantagh Inn has allowed me to serve the community, and raise my family,” Dunphy said in a speech at the dinner. “I’ve watched babies grow up, I’ve seen spouses meet and get married. I often think back to where I left. I could never have imagined going out of Ireland. What a place America, and the American dream, has been to me.”
Michael Dunphy has been married to his wife, Geraldine, since 1973. They have four children — Matthew, Conor, Ronan, and Una. According to Dunphy, seeing his children attend college was an essential part of his American dream.
What makes events like this, and figures like Dunphy important, is the fact that Wantagh does not have a village. It relies on people like John Murray Jr. and Michael Dunphy — and county officials like Patrick Ryder — to help craft a sense of community. Dunphy has done excellent work in this regard. He can name virtually all patrons of his bar, and even used to drive them home to make sure everyone safe.
This was the thought process that went into naming him grand marshal. The tradition started in 2019, with Murray as the grand marshal leading it. Ryder was named commissioner in 2020, but the parade had to be postponed until 2022 due to the pandemic.
“I say it every day, and I really mean it — God bless America,” Dunphy concluded.