The President and Central Committee members of the Garda Síochána Retired Members’ Association (GSRMA) which represents over 6,000 retired gardai, extend congratulations to An Gárda Síochána on the force marking 50 YEARS of GARDA TRAINING at Templemore Garda College, Co. Tipperary. The move from Phoenix Park Depot occurred on Valentine’s Day in February 1964, as 190 recruit gardai packed their cases for a move to the Premier County. Perhaps, a few verses of the WW1 Song “Its a Long Way to Tipperary” were recited as the recruits made their way by train down countryway. Valentine’s Day 2014, saw some of the same recruits (but 50 years older) as invited guests of the Garda Commissioner for a ceremony at the Garda College.
A brief history of the move in 1964 –
In June 1960, newspapers first reported that Garda recruit training was ‘virtually certain’ to move from the Phoenix Park Depot to McCan (formerly Richmond) military barracks in Templemore. The Garda Commissioner Mr. Costigan made several visits to McCan during the summer of 1960 and Junior Minister in the Department of Justice Charles J. Haughey stated in the Dail that the current facilities at Garda Headquarters and the Soldier’s Hall in Parkgate Street were ‘no longer considered suitable for the accommodation of Garda recruits’.
Despite having not been used by the regular army since the end of ‘the Emergency’ in 1945, McCan was considered the most suitable location for the transfer of recruit training as it already had sufficient accommodation, two large barrack squares, a gymnasium, hospital and modem sanitary facilities. In addition, Templemore was centrally located and also had a railway station, making it accessible from any part of Ireland within a couple of hours. Garda recruitment would increase to 600 or 700 per year as the members who had founded An Garda Siochana in 1922 were retiring in large numbers. To keep the force at its strength of 6,400 a substantial number of new recruits would be required.
Works in the barracks included the construction of an indoor heated swimming pool, two outdoor handball alleys, two basketball courts, a lounge, gymnasium and a recreation hall that could also be used as a dance hall. The cost of the swimming pool at £50,000 was somewhat controversial, but was justified on the basis that ‘every member of the force should be a first class swimmer with knowledge of lifesaving’ and that the provision of this facility would be the most far-reaching step ever taken in the promotion of water safety in Ireland.
The February 1964 issue of Iris An Ghárda (the Garda Review) reported that the new training centre with ‘its vastly improved appointments and apartments, is truly a milestone in Garda advancement’. An advance party of recruits and instructional staff went to Templemore one week ahead of the main group to perform tasks such as the assembly of beds and equipping of offices and classrooms. They were accommodated in the Templemore Arms Hotel as the catering facilities in the GTC were still being finished. The transfer of 190 recruits and instructional staff took place on 14 February 1964. On that cold and wet St. Valentine’s Day, recruits formed fours on the Depot square for the last time and marched out of gate towards Kingsbridge (now Heuston) railway station led by the Garda Band which played ‘Auld-Lang Syne’. On arrival at Kingsbridge the group boarded a specially chartered train which was temporarily renamed as the ‘Templemore Special’.
On arrival at Templemore railway station the recruits were greeted by local politicians before assembling to march to the training centre, led by the newly formed Thomas McDonagh Pipe Band from Templemore.
The formal opening of the Garda Training College took place one week after the transfer of recruits, on 21 February 1964. The ceremony was carried out by Minister for Justice Charles J. Haughey, the Garda Commissioner Dan Costigan and the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Dr. Morris.
The first passing out ceremony from the Garda Training College took place in March 1964.