“It’s not about me, it’s about us, and tradition,” says Dennis Counihan, who was recently selected as 2017 Grand Marshal of Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.
He promises family oriented event and one that honors the many who came before him. “If you look back in history, the Irish began coming here in 1800’s. They were fleeing politics and religious persecution, famine and genocide and what they brought with them was their faith and their love for Ireland and St. Patrick so I think you see that reflected in our great parade,” he said.
For Counihan, the apple didn’t fall far from the treee. His father, Michael, was the Grand Marshal in 1988. “I’m honored to follow him or walk beside him. He was one of the happiest Grand Marshals I have ever seen. He had Ireland was written all over his face,” says Dennis Couniham.
Dennis is sitting with brothers Jerry and Brian. Jerry is older than the other two and tells me he was “generally the enforcer and looked after them most of their lives.” He says that’s the way they were raised, i.e. to protect one another.
Then there’s younger brother Brian, who is the chair of this year’s parade committe and who was put in a pretty tough spot when Dennis ran for Grand Marshal. That’s because the chair is not supposed to pick sides. “And I didn’t, he won on his own merits,” Brian Counihan said.
The picture of the three Counihan brothers smiling and talking is a happy one. But sadly, a fourth brother, Michael just recently passed away. Michael had Spinia Bifida and defied the odds by living until age 75. He died February 15.
“Yes he was a great man, he fought the good fight and we’re sorry he’s gone,” said Dennis Counihan.
Dennis Counihan and his brothers know their brother Michael and their father will be with them in spirit this year as they walk in the parade.
Dennis says he wants to honor what he calls the ‘greatest generation, people like my mother and father who lived through the Depression, who helped win World War II. We are experiencing the fruits of their live.”
The brothers said they hope that parade day brings wonderful weather and that “everybody comes and sees the parade and takes something from it, especially family and unity.”