Gibbons Chairman and Managing Director Receives Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award


October 2, 2019

The Donegal County (Ireland) Council honored Patrick C. Dunican Jr., Chairman and Managing Director of Gibbons P.C., with one of its 2019 Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Awards at a ceremony on September 27 at the Inishowen Gateway Hotel in Buncrana, Ireland. Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) presenter Sean O’Rourke served as Master of Ceremonies for a packed audience.

The Tip O’Neill Award is an initiative of the Donegal County Council’s Donegal Diaspora Project, created in 2012 to mark the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Thomas Phillip “Tip” O’Neill, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977-1987 and one of the most prominent American statesmen of his time, whose maternal grandparents hailed from Donegal. The award is presented annually to people of Irish background in recognition of achievements in their chosen fields and their interest in and support for Ireland and its diaspora.

Tom O’Neill, son of the late Tip O’Neill, paid homage to this year’s honorees, describing Mr. Dunican as a “real Irish leader” who “created a national powerhouse of a legal firm situated along the East Coast of the United States.” He said, “His Irishness is recognised and appreciated for the leadership he gives all Americans but especially the Irish American community.”

Mr. Dunican, whose four grandparents emigrated to the United States from Ireland, including his maternal grandfather, John Doherty, from Donegal, was honored for his high-profile work as managing director of one of America’s largest and most prominent law firms, his community leadership, and his longstanding efforts to develop and strengthen economic ties between New Jersey and Ireland. In accepting his award, he said, “I am Irish, I am American, I am Irish American,” reiterating his commitment to using his platform to encourage trade, travel, and tourism with and to Donegal County.

Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Nicholas Crossan, who had announced the awards this past summer, noted that “these Awards were founded as a way to pay tribute to the great deeds of Tip O’Neill, to honour his family connection to this part of the world and to celebrate not only the outstanding achievements of Tip himself but to recognize, to acknowledge and to honour the millions of Irish people or people of Irish decent across the globe who through hard work and dedication have excelled in their chosen fields and who through their own generosity of spirit continue to champion and support our diaspora in every corner of the globe.”

Also honored this year was author and playwright Frank McGuinness, who is celebrated as one of Ireland’s greatest living writers, best known for such plays as Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me, The Factory Girls, and Dolly West’s Kitchen. Rounding out the 2019 recipients were Dublin-based developer Pat Doherty and Daniel J. Hilferty, CEO of Independence Health Group, parent of one of the leading health insurers in the US. Prior recipients include Chris Matthews, host of the nightly news program “Hardball” on MSNBC; former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley; and former governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer. The event was streamed live and is available for viewing on The evening before the ceremony, all four 2019 honorees took part in “A Life Stories Event with Professor Paul Moore,” an informal program hosted by Donegal County Council and Ulster University at Magee.

Mr. Dunican is a founding member of the Irish American Bar Association of New Jersey (IABANJ) and has long been active in initiatives to develop and strengthen local and regional business communities’ connections with Ireland and Irish business ventures. These efforts are key components of wider-ranging statewide platforms to further economic partnerships between New Jersey and Ireland. Choose New Jersey, an economic development organization promoting and supporting economic growth throughout the state, selected Ireland for its first international business attraction mission in July 2019, led by executives from such key regional industries as healthcare, finance, education, and development. From 2017 to 2018, exports from New Jersey to Ireland increased 14.3 percent; such exports have more than doubled since 2015. Major industry sectors that are flourishing in both New Jersey and Ireland include financial services, technology, medical devices, life sciences, and food. Ireland and New Jersey employ similar strategies to create innovation infrastructures to continually foster new product, service, and business development. And finally, New Jersey is ideally situated in the middle of the Northeast corridor, close to New York and Philadelphia and with daily non-stop flights to and from Ireland, allowing Irish businesses to easily connect with customers, clients, and educated employees.

Gibbons itself has strong ties to Ireland, dating back to its 1926 founding by Irish-American attorney Andrew B. Crummy. Gibbons and the IABANJ were among the hosts of a special networking reception featuring then-sitting Taoiseach of Ireland, Enda Kenny, during the New Jersey State Bar Association’s mid-year meeting in Dublin in 2011. The Gibbons Corporate Department represents numerous Irish companies and subsidiaries in mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, public securities offerings, business contracts, service agreements, and general business expansion in the US. These clients include companies in key sectors to both New Jersey’s and Ireland’s economies, including healthcare, technology, medical devices, and biotech. Gibbons also represents US-based companies engaging or investing in Ireland, including, for example, one financial firm’s significant investment in a new high efficiency/CHP power plant in County Mayo. The firm regularly assists the Irish Consulate in New York with legal matters and has acted on behalf of Ireland’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

Gibbons also upholds several cultural traditions reflecting its Irish heritage. As Grand Marshal of the 78th Newark St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Mr. Dunican led a full-day celebration hosted in large part by Gibbons in March 2013 and raised more money for more charities than ever before in the parade’s 78-year history. St. Patrick’s Day has long been an annual celebration at the firm, featuring Irish meals, bagpipers, step dancers, a limerick contest, and other festivities. Notably, seven Gibbons attorneys, including Mr. Dunican, are featured on the most recent “Irish Legal 100” list, a compilation of some of the most distinguished, accomplished men and women of Irish heritage in the legal profession in the US, published annually since 2008 by the Irish Voice.

Mr. Dunican also has been recognized among the “Irish Education 100,” which celebrates Irish-American leaders and major supporters of educational institutions throughout the US. He has been named among PolitickerNJ’s “Irish American Leaders of New Jersey.” In 2018, the Irish American Cultural Institute presented Mr. Dunican with its Annie Moore Award, an annual honor recognizing an individual who has made significant contributions to the Irish and/or Irish American community and legacy. In 2019, he delivered the keynote address at the 118th Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of the Oranges Dinner; the two most recent previous keynote speakers were Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Sixth Archbishop of Newark, and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.