Background: A New York City firefighter, Brian Downey was named as the 2013 Aisling Irish Center Bachelor of the Year at an event in Gaelic Park in the Bronx on Saturday night.

Tell us about your Irish heritage?

“I was born and raised in Riverdale in the Bronx. My grandparents were from Galway and although I have never back to their town, I have been to Ireland numerous times with different friends. I am very proud of my Irish background.”

You’re a sports fanatic -- tell us about the team that you coach.

“I am a high school basketball coach for 18 years, currently at All Hallows High School which is located at 164th Street off the Grand Concourse. I love the game and love teaching it. I really enjoy helping and being involved in the kids’ lives and knowing that they have me in their corner when they need me.” 

Why did you enter the Aisling Irish Center’s bachelor competition?

“I was first asked to enter the contest and although I was honored, I turned it down. I didn’t think I could do it or that I had what it took to be in it. After some persuasion I said I would do it mainly because it was for a good cause and I wanted to help the Aisling Center.”

What does it mean to you be crowned the Bachelor of New York?

“To be crowned the winner was a complete shock. The other contestants were incredible and a great bunch of guys. I am lucky and honored to be given the title of the Aisling Irish Center Bachelor of the Year.” 

What was the most memorable moment from Saturday night, apart from winning?

“Besides the actual announcement of me winning, the fun I had with the other lads during that evening is something I will never forget. Meeting Linda and the other ladies from the center as well as the judges really made everything worth it. 

“I was nervous and apprehensive at first, but I was made to feel comfortable and right at home. The main thing for me was to not let anyone down. Win or lose Saturday night, I wanted to make an effort to help out the center when I could.”

You will now work as an ambassador for the Aisling Irish Center for 2013.  Why do you think their work is so important?

“I was really impressed by all the things they do for the people in the community. I am excited to be involved and help the center and all the work they do. The people that work there are amazing, and I am lucky and honored to be able to work along with them in the future.”

Interview by Molly Muldoon