Born in Philadelphia in 1968, Paul McCormack was the third eldest in a family of seven children. In 1973, his parents, Peter and Teresa, packed up the family and moved back to Donegal, to a small farm in Meencarrigach, three and a half miles outside of Ballybofey.
Most of Paul's youth was spent playing Gaelic football with his brothers, almost daily, on the makeshift football pitch he and his family built on the field across the street from their house. The competition was intense and often attracted the attention of passing motorists, as the house was on the main Derry to Sligo road.
Paul attended Dooish National School and completed his Leaving Certificate at Stranorlar Vocational School in 1986. He played Gaelic football for both Stranorlar and the Donegal Vocational School teams. During this time, Paul also played for the local GAA club, Sean MacCumhaills, at all levels, winning county medals for the U-13s and the U-15s. In 1983, Sean and Paul marched out onto Croke Park with his teammates prior to the Donegal v Galway All-Ireland Semi-final. he also played for the Donegal Minor team.
After completing his Leaving Certificate, Paul immigrated to New York, due to the poor economy in Ireland at the time. In his early years in New York, Paul played underage football with Good Shepherd Club, run by the late Mike Meehan (RIP). He represented the New York Minor team in the All-Ireland Quarterfinal versus Cork, and also played for the New York Junior team. Thrughout his career with Good Shepherd and the New York, Paul is proud to have been a teammate of the late Damian Meehan (RIP). He also played both Junior and Senior football with the Donegal Club, receiving their Footballer of the Year in 1994.
Until 1990, Paul worked for Local 18A, the Cement and Concrete Workers Union, and then joined the NYPD. He worked as a Police Officer in the 42nd Precinct, as a sergeant in the 46th Precinct, and was promoted to Lieutenant in May 1997. As a lieutenant, he worked in the 45th, and in September 1999 was promoted to Captain, transferring to the 33rd. In January 2001, Paul was promoted to Precinct Commander of the 41st, also known as Fort Apache. This proved to be a very fortuitous move for Paul, because his first day at Fort Apache was the day he met his future wife, Nicola. Paul was transferred to the 13th in February of 2003 after being promoted to the rank of Deputy Inspector. Paul retired last year, after twenty years of service. During his 20 years in the NYPD, Paul received over 40 commendations, medals, and awards for bravery and outstanding police work.
In 1997, Paul completed his Bachelor's Degree in Police Science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In 2001, he was awarded a scholarship from the NYPD, and completed his Master's Degree in Management from the prestigeous Wagner School at NYU. He was also selected by the NYPD to attend the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA, in 1999.
Since 1990, Paul has been a member, and from 1999 to 2009, the President of the NYPD Gaelic Football Club. Their mission is Coinnigh an duchas beo (Keep the heritage alive) amongst the Irish in the NYPD through Gaelic football, and to raise funds for worthy causes, such as the Widows' and Orphans' Fund, the Damian Meehan Foundation, Project Children, etc. To date, the Club has raised over $200,000. Paul is very active in organizing games between local and national law enforcement agencies, as well as the Garda Siochana in Ireland. In 2002, he proudly took the NYPD team to Donegal, and showed them the beauty of the county and the hospitality of the people, culminating in a match against the Donegal Gardai in his hometown of Balleybofey. In 2007, the club traveled to London, and won the International Police GAA Tournament for the first time, defeating the Dublin Garda by a single point in the final.
Paul and Nicolaare proud to have created a memorial exhibition, "Ground Zero 360", honoring the victims of 9/11. This traveling exhibition has received worldwide acclaim, and has been shown at the National Museum of Ireland, the Field Museum in Chicago, and the Royal Dublin Society, among others. Over the enxt couple of years, the exhibition will travel to another four cities in Ireland, and will start European and American tours. The work will be on permanent display at the 9/11 Memorial Museum in September 2012. Paul and Nicola believe they have a reponsibility to keep the memory alive and not forget the sacrafice of so many on that terrible day. Paul currently divides his time between New York and Dublin, with his beautiful wife Nicola, and their four wonderful sons, Paul Jr (7), twins Mikey and James (5), and the baby and boss of the family, Bobby-Dee (3). Paul is looking forward to spending more time with his family and preparing his sons to play for Donegal in the near future.
Deeply honored and proud to have been a member of the NYPD and the NYPD Gaelic Football Club for more than twenty years, Paul is humbled and proud to be honored by his friends in the Club this evening.
** FROM THE TWELFTH ANNUAL DINNER DANCE JOURNAL. **
KEEPING THE HERITAGE ALIVE