In many Garda Stations countrywide, name-plates, plaques and photographs remind the station party and local community of Gardai who faithfully served their village, parish or town. In most cases they refer to young Gardai who lost their lives in the execution of duty. In the Sunday Independent, 31st August 2014, a letter from Patrick Fleming, Glasnevin, Dublin 9, reminds and gives us the history of a memorial plaque at Listowel Garda Station, Co. Kerry.
You can read the full letter hereunder:
Madam – As a rejoinder to the letter from Gerard Lovett (Sunday Independent 24 August) regarding the non-recognition by the state of the role the RIC played in Irish history, the only memorial honouring these Irishmen, I believe, is on a wall in Listowel Garda Station. It is in memory of 14 RIC constables who defied orders to pursue Republican Volunteers in Kerry. Despite intimidation from superior officers they resigned from the force.
A committee was formed to have their plaque erected which included Fr Anthony Gaughan, the Listowel writer and historian, and the late John B Keane whose premises had been used by the constables – led by Jeremiah Mee – as a meeting place.
Constable Joseph Downey, my maternal uncles, was one of the 14. He later emigrated, as did some others, to New York, where he spent the rest of his life.
The campaign of terror against RIC members began in January 1919 when two popular local RIC constables, escorting a consignment of gelignite to a quarry, were ambushed by an IRA party, led by Seán Treacy and Dan Breen. They left behind two widows and several fatherless children. This inglorious incident, widely condemned at the time, is recorded as initiating the Anglo Irish War.
Incidentally, regarding the DMP, there is in Prospect Cemetery in Glasnevin, and some distance from the main entrance, a plot surmounted by a large Celtic cross, with the names and ages of the constables who lost their lives on duty.
It is said that the first casualty of the 1916 rising was the unarmed DMP constable who raised his arm in warning at the gate in Dublin Castle at the approaching rebels who took no prisoners of war.
Glasnevin, Dublin 9.
Sunday, Independent, 31 August 2014.