Ian McCormack, 30, an Irish firefighter who has terminal brain cancer, visited New York last week as a guest of the FDNY Gaelic football team. His wife Gemma accompanied McCormack, who worked as a fireman at the Dolphin’s Barn Station in Dublin, on the five-day trip.
The visit was organized by FDNY Captain Eddie Boles, who told the Irish Voice, “I was contacted by a good friend of mine in the Dublin Fire Brigade named Tadgh Fallon, who’s a member of their Gaelic Football Club. After his diagnosis they had had a fundraiser for Ian to send him and his wife on a Make-A-Wish type trip to New York City.”
Boles responded to Fallon’s request by securing an itinerary filled with visits to city landmarks, as well as restaurant and hotel stays, and even a boat cruise around Manhattan aboard the 343 Fireboat to make McCormack’s visit as memorable as possible.
“Billy Nolan, the team manager of the Gaelic football club and president of the Emerald Society of the FDNY and I picked Ian and his wife Gemma up and brought them to Fitzpatrick’s Hotel, and they rolled out the red carpet,” Boles says.
At Fitzpatrick’s Boles had arranged for the local FDNY companies to participate as a welcoming committee, accompanied by an Irish bagpiper.
“It was a really nice reception, Fitzpatrick’s provided them with a suite, they met Dublin GAA star Alan Brogan there and that evening I invited them for dinner in Little Italy,” Boles says.
McCormack and his wife arrived in New York on October 10 and stayed for five activity-packed days. On the second day they were invited to McGettigan’s on West 36th Street for dinner and to watch the Ireland vs. France rugby match.
“That night they attended a tailgate party at Giants Stadium arranged by Firefighter Brian Doyle. There he received a signed jersey from quarterback Eli Manning and the Giants won the game,” said Boles.
Further events included shopping trips to Garden State Mall and dinner at Delmonico’s courtesy of Ciaran Conlon. On the third day in an emotional ceremony McCormack was sworn in as an honorary FDNY Firefighter.
“That was a really special event,” says Boles. “All the top brass were there as well as members of the FDNY Gaelic football club. Ian got a badge, he was presented with a piece of steel from the World Trade Center and he also received a plaque of honor.”
Other highlights of McCormack’s trip included a visit to the Irish Consulate where he was hosted by the Consul General Barbara Jones, a trip to the World Trade Center Memorial, a visit to FDNY headquarters, and their unofficial headquarters of John’s Pizzeria.
The trip underlined the strong relationship between the Dublin Fire Brigade and the FDNY GAA team, which was forged in the aftermath of 9/11.