Patrick McCarthy, a retired and former member of the Granard Garda Station, will always remember with pride Saturday August 25. For it was on that date that over 100 people turned out at Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, to attend a commemoration which he, and fellow retired Garda, Gerry Lovett, had organised.
The event was in fact the first ceremony in living history at the cemetery for the 563 Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) men and Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) members who were killed during 1916 and the War of Independence (1919 – 1921).
“We are at a time within the Peace Process where everyone who was part of the troubled past should be remembered,” said Mr McCarthy, a native of West Limerick who served in Granard Garda Station from 1954 to 1958.
The keen historian said: “In April 1955 a former RIC man came back to see what Granard was like 32 years ago after he had left it. He told me all about the casualties. But it wasn’t until 2006 that I actually sat down and wrote about them.”
Within the Longford / Westmeath Division of the RIC 18 men died during the War of Independence (listed below). Their lives were previously commemorated at a Mass in Granard in 2010. This ceremony was once again organised by Mr McCarthy.
“We hope to go one step further,” he said. “This is the final chapter in our troubled history and we (the Garda Siochana Retired Members Association) voted unanimously in 2010 to have a monument erected in honour of these men at Glasnevin Cemetery. It is our hope this will happen within a few years.”
The ceremony at the cemetery, which was also attended by retired members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, family and friends, did not receive support from all quarters of Irish life. For instance, the Government did not send a representative to the ceremony. Furthermore, a group of approximately 20 men claiming to be from the ‘32-County-Sovereignty Committee’ gathered at the entrance to the cemetery as the proceedings were getting under way.
“There were some protesters at the ceremony but when they tried to interrupt us as we were talking, the Gardai stopped them. They left quietly following that,” said Mr McCarthy who is married to Mary (nee Lynch) of Granard.
Of all who attended on the day, Mr McCarthy was most moved by the presence of one lady – a niece of District Inspector Philip St. John Kelleher. A native of Macroom, County Cork, Kelleher (23) died in the snug (‘The Hole In The Wall’) beside the Market House, Granard.
“She was the only person there whose family member had been murdered. Everyone else belonged to those that had been a part of the RIC until they retired or it was disbanded,” said Mr McCarthy.
Mr McCarthy concluded: “Women, daughters and sons of the RIC members came into the cemetery with tears in their eyes. It is our hope that this will become an annual ceremony.”