Paul Mc Girr was a typical 18 year old, exuberant and full of the joys of life and he loved nothing more than spending time with his family and wide circle of friends. He was an avid sports fan, having played numerous sports, most notably Gaelic Football, and partook in a Leisure Studies course at Fermanagh College of Further Education.

Paul was a native of Garvaghy, Ballygawley, with whom he played club football until his family moved to Dromore in 1992. He then began a successful club career as a talented forward with Dromore St Dympna’s.

In addition to club football, Paul played school football for St.Ciaran’s High School, Ballygawley and Fermanagh College of Further Education. These successes at schools and club level soon drew the attention of the Tyrone minor management duo of Mickey Harte and Father Gerard McAleer and in 1997 Paul was selected as a member of the Tyrone Minor squad, a feat he was extremely proud of.

Strangely enough for someone so clearly identified as a Tyrone player, it was in Fermanagh colours that Paul Mc Girr won an All-Ireland medal with Fermanagh College in the Vocational Schools Cup in the year before his death. This trophy has now been recommissioned in his name.

2007 was the 10th Anniversary of Paul’s untimely death and in his memory we have established the ‘The Spirit of Paul McGirr’.  Our aim is to work closely with projects already underway in various parts of Africa, namely Zambia, which have been set up by the SMA Missionary priests.  During his teenage years, like many of his St. Ciaran’s classmates, Paul spent many happy summers at Dromantine Boys camps, and the ethos of the SMA Fathers and their work in the developing world was instilled in Paul and was very close to his heart.

Affiliated football teams

  • Errigal Ciaran
  • St Ciaran’s High School Ballygawley
  • Dromore St Dympna’s
  • Fermanagh College of Further Education
  • Fermanagh Vocational Schools
  • Tyrone Minors

What his teamates had to say

Kevin O’Brien & Joe Campbell (Tyrone Minors 1997 and Dromore team mates forever).

Stephen  O’ Neill ( Tyrone Minor Team Mate 1997 & Friend )
My first memory of Paul Mc Girr was when the Tyrone vocational schools team played against Fermanagh vocational schools in the Ulster vocational final in early 1997. I remember some of the boys who knew him from before and saying how good a player he was! I just thought it was strange a Tyrone man playing against his county for Fermanagh!

The next meeting I had with Paul was then on Mickey Harte’s minor team in early February I think. And I suppose when you are new onto a minor team/panel (or any panel) you tend to be quiet and socialise with lads from your own club or area for the first while. I got to know Paul briefly over the months that followed up until his tragic death on the 15th of June. I suppose it’s not until something like that happens when you realise the value of memories!

I remember we didn’t do to well in the minor league that year. We didn’t qualify for the knock out stages anyway. We prepared well for the championship and had a tough game against Down in Clones. I remember Paul scored a point that day playing left half forward. It was very tough conditions, very wet but we managed to win. Up next was Armagh a game no-one in Tyrone will forget, the weather was the opposite of our last outing. I remember during the kick-about behind the fire station in Omagh I did some calf stretches with Paul. We were just talking about how great it was to play for Tyrone in front of big crowds and about how much he was looking forward to playing the game! Unfortunately I came on for Paul when he got injured, just thinking that he got badly winded.

I suppose that’s one of my big regrets looking back in not getting to know Paul better. I wish I could say thank you for what he did for us. The bravery, commitment, passion and pride shown by him in the Tyrone jersey led us onto things that I doubt would ever have been possible without his contribution!


Paul possessed commitment, dedication, discipline and a sincere desire to succeed.  This ethic not only applied to Gaelic Football but for everything he endeavoured in life and this made him the unique individual and constant friend he was.  Those attributes and values Paul possessed are echoed through “The Spirit of Paul Mc Girr” and we believe it is something he himself would have been very proud to be associated with.  He would probably say “fair play to you’s!”

We feel really lucky to have known Paul and been able to call him a good mate.  We have great memories of him on and off the field!  “The Spirit of Paul McGirr” is an ideal way to keep his memory alive and is an excellent group for people who want to make a real difference to get involved in

Martin Mc Elkennon (County Minor Coach 1997 and Teacher) 

I first got to know Paul as a 2nd year pupil when I joined the P.E. staff of St. Ciaran’s. High School Ballygawley in 1992.  Even at that age I knew Paul was going to be a special talent. I remember Paul played No. 11 for us in an Ulster U-16 Quarter final in 95/96 and scored a great goal from 30 metres out to win the game.  The whole way home on the bus he kept telling me and Robbie Hasson [the other manager] that he was going to play for Tyrone.

By 1997 Paul had left our school and was studying at Enniskillen Technical College.  He came back to the school for 2 weeks work experience in early 1997.  During every free period Paul would go into the sports hall and practice free kicks against the Sports Hall wall, his target being the basketball back-board from 20m away.  By the end of the 2 weeks he was hitting about 3 out of 5.  On his last day of work experience Paul challenged me for a game of first to 10 for £5.  He ended up beating me 10 to 1 and was very happy to take my £5.  A typical Ballygawley man – always on the look out to make money.

In October 1996 I was brought in to coach the Tyrone U-18’s under Mickey Harte.  As the championship came closer Paul was proving to be all that he said he would be [years earlier] a Tyrone player and a special player.   I was delighted to have both taught Paul in St. Ciaran’s and to have coached him as a Tyrone minor – even if he was smiling proudly while he took my hard earned £5.  The memory of Paul McGirr I believe will last longer and run deeper than many county players who were lucky to play and enjoy a lot longer county career.