2017 Press Releases

UCC alum to lead NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade

15 Mar 2017
Michael J. Dowling: "I am proud to be a UCC graduate and to lead the Irish down Fifth Avenue on March 17."

UCC alum Michael J. Dowling will serve as Grand Marshal for the 2017 New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Dowling follows in the illustrious footsteps of previous Grand Marshals, from screen legend Maureen O’Hara and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Senator George J. Mitchell to bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark and Taoiseach (February 1992  - December 1994) Albert Reynolds.   

In time-honoured tradition, he will lead marchers from 44th Street in Manhattan, up Fifth Avenue to 79th Street. On naming Mr. Dowling as this year’s Grand Marshal, Dr. John Lahey, Chairman of the Board of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, said that Michael Dowling is “the true embodiment of the values we celebrate on St. Patrick’s Day, a leader in a noble healing profession, an educator, a public servant, an Irish American who has made enormous contributions to his adopted country and who has made us all proud to be Irish.” 

Dowling is President and CEO of Northwell Health, the largest health care system in New York State and with more than 62,000 employees, its largest private employer. 

He has received many awards throughout his career including the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Gold Medal from the American Irish Historical Society and an Alumni Achievement Award from UCC. He has served as an advisor to both Taoiseach Enda Kenny and former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, and he is widely considered one of the most powerful people in healthcare in the US.


“My UCC education was a major contributor to my success. I am proud to be a UCC graduate and to lead the Irish down 5th Avenue on March 17,” Dowling said. 

The New York City St. Patrick's Parade is the oldest and largest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the world. The first parade was held on March 17, 1762. The parade's organisers expect more than 150,000 people to march and two million people to spectate.

Congratulating Dowling on this prestigious honour, UCC President, Professor Patrick O’Shea, said that “Michael Dowling is a wonderful ambassador for UCC and a source of inspiration to both students and alumni. Mr. Dowling’s progression to the helm of one of the United States’ largest health systems and his exemplary leadership is testament to what can be achieved through dedication and commitment.  His story is one which generates a great sense of pride in the UCC diaspora and one which will motivate generations of UCC students to come.”

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