Event recalls arrival of An Garda Síochána to Cork 100 years ago

Plaque remembers six members of the force who died in city while on duty

Garda stock, garda hats

The arrival of the first members of An Garda Síochána into Cork 100 years ago was recalled with pride on Wednesday by senior officers in the city.

Chief Supt Tom Myers of Cork City Division paid tribute to both past and serving members as he invited Assistant Commissioner Eileen Foster to unveil a plaque at the Cork School of Music on Union Quay where the first gardaí were billeted when they arrived in Cork a century ago.

“On the 9th of November 1922, 60 Civic Guards under the command of Supt Eamon P Cullen arrived in Cork City from Dublin on board the steamship Lady Carlow. They were billeted at the School of Music building here beside the ruined RIC Station which was burned down on August 10th, 1922.”

Chief Supt Myers noted Michael Collins, who had spent his last night in the nearby Imperial Hotel, had highlighted the importance of fledging State getting members of the Civic Guard on the streets of Cork in what proved to be the last entry in his notebook before his death at Béal na Bláth.


“Collins wrote – ‘It would be a big thing to get Civic Guards both here (Cork) and Limerick – Civic Administration urgent everywhere in the South. The people are splendid,” said Chief Supt Myers who noted how the Cork Examiner had also welcomed the force in its editorial of November 10th.

“The creation of the Civic Guard is a direct result of Irish liberty, and it is for the people to prove that they appreciate that freedom by cordially upholding the body that has been brought into being to maintain peace. The arrival of the Civic Guard is welcomed greatly by the citizens,” said the paper.

Chief Supt Myers noted the formation of the Civic Guard, later to be renamed An Garda Síochána na hÉireann on August 8th, 1923, was an important milestone for an organisation that has evolved over 100 years into a modern and functioning police and security service.

“This is the cornerstone of a democratic and progressive society. We have a proud tradition of supporting our communities, protecting the State, and on an international stage through our peacekeeping roles.,” he said.

After the unveiling of the plaque by Ms Foster, a large of contingent of uniformed and plainclothes officers, led by the Garda Band, marched to the Cork Garda HQ on Anglesea Street where Supt John Deasy unveiled a plaque to members who died in the line of duty.

Chief Supt Myers read out the roll of honour, remembering all six members of the force who died on duty in Cork, including the first officer, Sgt James Fitzsimons (23) who was shot dead when armed raiders attacked St Luke’s Garda station in Cork on November 14th, 1926.

Also remembered was Gda Eugene McCarthy (25) who drowned in the river Lee on January 8th, 1933, after rescuing a man from the water at George’s Quay and Det Garda John Roche (34), shot dead by an armed man on Patrick Street on January 3rd, 1940, when he and colleagues approached to question him.

Other officers killed more recently in the line of duty were also remembered including Gda James Doody (28) who was killed when the patrol car he was travelling in was hit by another vehicle at the junction of Glasheen Road and Wilton Road on January 7th, 1973.

The most recent casualties were Gda George Rice (44) and Gda Seamus McIntyre (29) who were both killed when their patrol car collided with another car on the North Ring Road on April 22nd, 2001. They were also remembered by Chief Supt Myers.

“Today with great sadness, we remember all 89 valued members of An Garda Síochána, who made the ultimate sacrifice for the people of Ireland on this our 100th anniversary. Their deaths will never be forgotten by a very thankful and appreciated organisation and community,” he said.

Following The Last Post by bugler Gda Charles Kavanagh, the ceremony was brought to a close by the Garda Band, under the baton of conductor Insp Pat Kenny, when they played Amhrán na bhFiann for the 500 or so attending, including serving and past members and their families.

Afterwards Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Deirdre Forde hosted a reception for members of An Garda Síochána at nearby Cork City Hall where she praised the force for their professionalism and dedicated service to the people of Cork over the last 100 years.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times