Paul was born in Las Vegas, Nevada to John and Martha Ahern. He met and married his wife, Diane, while attending ASU. They have three daughters and seven grandchildren. Paul’s great grandfather, Patrick, emigrated from County Cork, at the age of fifteen with his younger brother in the 1800’s. Patrick was denied entry to the US in New York but was accepted in Canada. The family moved to Missouri in hopes of a better life. Eventually his son, James, Paul’s grandfather, settled in Nevada where he homesteaded a small farm. Paul’s father, John, remained in Nevada, where he became an independent business owner and active community member.
Paul attended Arizona State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Architecture. Two years after graduating, Paul became a registered architect. Paul and his firm have received awards for innovative lighting in the Broadmor School Library, for quality masonry design for the Maricopa County Flood Control District Operations Center, and the AIA Western Mountain Region Award for the design of Mammoth Elementary School’s Community Center.
Paul’s initial involvement with the Cultural Center involved planning the Center on a plot of land east of the Central Library in Margaret Hance Park. He was part of the original group that envisioned a center filled with all things Irish. In 1997 Paul designed An Halla Mor, or the Great Hall, which was the first of three buildings that constitute the Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix.
An Halla Mor opened in 2002. The Cottage, which opened in 2004, is a replica of an authentic County Claire stone cottage. The McClelland Library opened to the public in 2012. Paul’s unique design of the McClelland Library won him the AZ Real Estate and Development Merit Award in the cultural category in 2013.
Paul is an active member of the Cultural Center’s board, organizer and manager of Currach Team Phoenix, and design consultant for Family Story Hour crafts and posters. He received the
Anam Cara award in 2011. He is often seen volunteering in the ICLF booth during events. There is nothing that makes him happier than to see the Center filled with people enjoying themselves.