THERE is a new sheriff in town… and his name is Paddy McGowan MBE
Mr McGowan, a former fire-fighter and councillor for the Omagh district, has been appointed High Sheriff of Tyrone.
He only found out about the news last week when he received a letter from the Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers.
The principal duties of a High Sheriff include welcoming members of the Royal family to the county and providing support to High Court judges when on circuit.
As it is mainly a judicial role, Mr McGowan officially commenced the year-long position when he was sworn in as High Sheriff by a solicitor last week.
Born in Fermanagh, Mr McGowan moved to Omagh 57 years ago.
He has played a prominent public role in the town since the 1960s as a fire-fighter, Ulsterbus manager and politician.
Mr McGowan held the chairman’s position at Omagh District Council on three occasions and was vice-chair twice.
Speaking about his new role, Mr McGowan said, “It’s a shock in many ways but I suppose I am humbled and honoured that I was chosen. It is a nice gesture and a good way to start 2016, particularly as I dropped out of politics in the last year.
“You miss the buzz of being there, but after 30 years I thought I had done enough but now this comes along to keep me going.”
With a busy year ahead in terms of attending significant milestone commemorations, the new High Sheriff added, “I am very pleased as I attend a lot of events anyway.
This year is significant in that you have WW1 events and the Easter Rising commemoration so it is quite a hectic year for many organisations.”
Mr McGowan is extremely well known in the Omagh area and is proud to have served the local people in a variety of important roles over the past few decades.
“In all of these things, I was very privileged and this is now an added bonus. When I saw the letter that I was appointed High Sheriff I did think ‘What is going on?’
“But it is pleasing to be acknowledged in this way because it means that somewhere along the line you satisfied people… and that’s what it is all about.”