Notre Dame graduate Brian T. Moynihan, 49, will become Bank of America’s Chief Executive, it was announced yesterday, becoming head of the largest bank in the U.S. and capping a meteoric rise to the top.

Moynihan was honored by our sister publication, Irish America magazine, at their Wall Street 50 dinner this year and also by the American Ireland Fund.

Moynihan moved to Bank of America in 2004 when it was acquired by Fleet Boston Financial Corp. He currently heads Bank of America’s consumer and small-business banking division

Before that, he served in several key positions at the company, including general counsel during the stormy negotiations to take over Merrill Lynch at the height of the banking crisis.

“I’ve always thought I could do the job. I have experience in all the businesses, and most importantly I’ve worked to understand our company and what motivates this company,’’ Moynihan told the Boston Globe.

“He has excelled in every role, earning the loyalty and respect of customers and associates alike. In short, Brian brings the right combination of knowledge, experience and leadership to achieve all of our company’s goals for the future,’’ the bank’s chairman, Walter E. Massey, said last night.

 “This is a remarkable executive,’’ said Charles K. Gifford, a longtime Boston banker and a Bank of America director who served on the search committee. “I have little doubt that Brian Moynihan will emerge as one of the most influential and successful leaders in corporate America.’’

Moynihan traces his Irish roots back to the 1850’s. “Both my parents come from small towns in upstate New York where the Irish part of their families had farms and then opened some stores. My grandfather was a lawyer up there. My dad went to school and became a chemist to work or DuPont. I’m one of eight children, number six. My parents moved to a little town in Ohio, called Marietta the month before I was born.

Speaking of his Notre Dame years Moynihan told Irish America:

 “My grandfather and my uncle both went to Notre Dame, so I had a great Notre Dame tradition. It was the best place in the world to go to law school. It was a very supportive place and we had more fun than we probably should have had. It’s a great school for a lot of reasons, but the law school was small, you really knew the professors, you really knew the undergraduates.

“I played rugby so it was fun, too. We went last August [2008]. We took my father and mother, and three of my siblings and our children went, so we had about 18 people traveling around in a bus, and it was a lot of fun. We went to Dublin for a few days and then took off down to the southwest. We had a bus driver who had that great Irish humor; we just laughed.

“I think we Irish try to have a good sense of humor, and I think you’ve got to be serious but not take yourself too seriously. I think also that no matter how many generations removed, there’s a little bit of a chip on the shoulder, and that you always [feel you must] prove yourself. There’s no sense of entitlement, no sense of placement, it’s all a sense of you’ve got to go out and work hard to get there.

“It doesn’t all break your way all the time, so you’ve got to just power through it. I think that’s deeply embedded in the culture of the Irish, including the Irish that went around the world, not only to this country but other countries. There’s a common trait, the people all had a sense that they needed to keep pushing forward, and they were never sort of settled. And I think that if you look across generations and look across people and meet people in the current generation in Ireland you see that trait’s still there.”