The Emerald Society Pipes and Drums were formed in June, 1985 by 16 members of the Emerald Society and former members of the Irish Warpipe Band. This move was caused by a political climate that had taken hold of the WarPipe Band and had become unbearable to function under.
The original focus of the band was music and camaraderie and not politics, a standard which is adhered to this day.
The Band was assisted with the talents of Pipe Major John Rinciari and Piper Gary Hanley of the Yonkers Police Department. June Hanley, a well known and respected Piper instructed the members who wanted to preform in competition. The majority of the Pipe section were already proficient musicians having been instructed by Sgt. Thomas McDonnell who was the first uniformed Pipe Major of the Irish Warpipe band. Thomas was also a competition piper with the Inis Fada Pipe Band and one of the best and most patient teachers a new piper could ask for. The original members of the band could not have asked for a better instructor or friend than Thomas McDonnell.
A new uniform was in order and so the band selected the Royal Stewart Tartan with a blue doublet for full dress. A dark blue police shirt was selected for the summer uniform.
For the next ten years the band flourished and preformed at many memorable venues, some of which were, the Frank Patterson Great Night for the Irish at Radio City Music Hall two years in a row, the USS Intrepid Museum, President George Bush on a visit to New York, several performances at Gracie Mansion including a performance on the eve of the Irish National Soccer team win over Italy in the World Cup, the Anniversary of the Brooklyn Bridge, several trips to Ireland, competing in the All Ireland Pipe Band Championships, and numerous parades including the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
In April 1995, the New York City Police Department, The New York City Transit Police Department and the New York City Housing Police Departmnet were merged into one police agency. The members of the Transit Police Emerald Society Pipes & Drums concluded that we had become more than members of a band, we had become an extended family and decided that we should stay together as band and family. We were offered several sponsorship’s but decided on the New York Shields, a fraternal organization which honors the accomplishments of police officers.
Over the years the band has been guided by several individuals in important positions, the Drum Major, the Pipe Major and the Business Manager. The band has had two Drum Majors, the first being Edward Wynne. Ed served as a snare drummer in the Irish Warpipe Band and became Drum Sergeant of the Emerald Society Pipes & Drums and eventually the Drum Major. Ed was a dedicated and diligent player who also served the band as the Business Manager.
The band has had four Pipe Majors since 1985. Our first in 1985 was John Rinciari, a Yonkers Police Officer who was not only a good cop, but a great piper and friend. The second Pipe Major was Thomas McNamara, Pipe major of the Irish Warpipe Band from 1981 to 1985. “Tommy Mac” received most of his instruction from Thomas McDonnell, the first uniformed Pipe Major of the Irish Warpipe Band and a Pipe Sergeant in the Inis Fada Pipe Band and was heavily influenced by Ed McKenna, Pipe Major of the Inis Fada Pipe Band. “Tommy Mac” served as Pipe Major from 1987-1994 and again from 1995-1999 and is currently back as our Pipe Major. The third was Donald McHugh who served as Pipe Major 1994-1995.
A special word of thanks to Patrick Collins who was the president of the Transit Police Emerald Society and who supported us at our birth and saw the course without wavering, even though a nasty political campaign was launched against the entire Emerald Society Board. The campaign failed and the truth prevailed.
1985 New York City Transit Police Emerald Society Pipes & Drums Charter Members
- P.O. George Colgan
- Det. Daniel Curtin
- P.O. Bill Donlon
- P.O. Richard Feiner
- P.O. Joesph Hannigan
- P.O. Richard Kennedy
- Sgt. Thomas McDonnell
- Sgt. Thomas McNamara
- P.O. Rory McGinn
- P.O. Joseph Miller
- P.O. Brendan Mallon
- P.O. Patrick O’Toole
- P.O. John Thomson
- Lt. John Walsh
- P.O. Thomas Whalen
- P.O. Edward Wynne