men who manned our Garda stations
were 40 garda stations in the Cavan/Monaghan Division in
year 1925 and all of them were fully manned throughout the
1940s. The complement of guards assigned to a station in
an average town or village was 3 or 4 plus a sergeant and
their combined attributes resulted in a good cohesive team.
Like a parish Mission in those days conducted by the Redemptorist
fathers compromising, a holy man, a boisterous "heard
it all before" man, and stern "hell fire and brimstone
man," the local garda station had a man for all seasons.
The team usually included, a quiet man who discreetly solved
crime but in the perception of the public did nothing at
all, an older experienced man whose main duty was policing
the town streets where his very presence ensured the observance
of law and order; next was the serious taciturn man - one
of the small number of uniformed garda allowed to carry
a firearm while assigned to special duty usually in civies
(civilian clothes). Last but by no means least, was the
strong man who prevented and resolved trouble in his own
inimitable style and summoned nobody.
Garda Philip Brady:
Garda Philip Brady, from Mullahoran, Middletown, Loughduff,
Co. Cavan, was more popularly known as Phil the Gunner Brady.
As well as being one of the greats Cavan footballers, he
was also a well-known and respected member of the Gardai.
Phil was 23 years of age when appointed to membership of
the garda on the 23rd February, 1948, and following training
in the Garda Depot in Dublin, he served initially in Union
Quay, Cork City and then in three stations in the Cavan/Monaghan
Division - Grousehall, Mullagh and Castleblayney; sadly,
he died (while serving) on 6th May, 1980, total service
32 years 16 days.
Phil was a tall athletic giant and his reputation for strength
and determination preceded him wherever he went; his presence
as a Guardian of the Peace at many a gathering was enough
to ensure a peaceful evening. His arrival at the scene of
a heated altercation or an escalating dispute had a miraculous
calming effect which restored and maintained law and order;
obstreperous protagonists continuing to disturb the peace,
did so at their peril.
One night in 1950 he was on duty outside a country "Ballroom
of Romance" when a discordance occurred in the ballroom
between two warring factions which in the parlance of the
late Michael O'Heir, developed into a right "shammozle"
on the centre of the dance floor; as the scuffle swayed
to and fro, ladies huddled for safety in corners and on
window ledges; the shouts and commotion could be heard outside
above the sound of the band which continued to playing in
the hope that happy music might calm hostilities; but alas,
this strategy was to no avail. Suddenly, the main door of
the Ballroom was pushed open, and there framed in the doorway
stood Garda Gunner Brady; someone shouted "Make way
for the Gunner," others took up the shout and the band
stopped playing and all eyes turned in his direction; the
crowd stood back clearing a way for him. Looking like a
master of his domain, with airy supreme authority and causal
steps, he majestically strode up the centre of the hall
ignoring a taunt or two by the principal protagonists who
now turned their attention on him; he paused at the edge
of the fracas area; and then, like a tiger he bounced; he
grabbed the two ringleaders in a lock grip behind their
necks and ran with them down the centre of the hall before
sliding the last few strides and ejecting them out the main
door which was opened and rapidly closed behind them; he
easily repeated this process a few times, throwing all the
troublemakers out two at a time.
Normality resumed, the dance continued uninterrupted for
the remainder of the night, all merrymakers comfortable
and relaxed in the strong arms of the law.
None of the troublemakers of that night were summoned; usually
in such instances, a strong-armed Guard did not issue summonses,
an attribute very much appreciated by all concerned; the
Gunner's policy of that night was. "Ah now! That never
happened, sure, I didn't hear of anyone getting hurt, did
Garda Joe Joyce:
Garda Joe Joyce, from Schrahallia, Cashel, Co. Galway served
in Shercock Station from August 1927 to April 1925; his
height measurements at that time was recorded at 6 feet
1 1/4 inches. He was quiet, deceptively strong and deeply
religious; his Garda colleagues sometimes saw him on his
knees discreetly praying in the Black Hole (barrack cell)
and sometimes jovially referred to him as "Holy Joe".
He was a perfect gentleman with a diplomatic approach in
resolving conflict and ensuring the maintenance of law an
One day in 1940, a tinker man, famous for strength and street
fighting, was causing major disruption near Duffy's corner
and challenging the odd passer bye to fight. Joe came quietly
on the scene, tapped him on the shoulder and politely said,
"Sir, you must immediately desist from disturbing the
peace, otherwise, you must accompany me to the Barracks;"
the confused tinker, not used to politeness and being called
"Sir" curiously asked, "Do you mean you'd
take me to the barracks if I don't stop?" and Joe responded,
"that's right, my good man, that's right," whereupon,
the astonished tinker, using numerous expletives shouted
there wasn't a man in town strong enough to do that job.
Joe quietly said he didn't known who might be the strongest
man in town but he himself was easily up to the job. The
surprised tinker pointing to a 56lb weight on a weighing
scale outside Duffy's shop asked, "how far and how
high could you throw that weight?" Joe thought for
a moment and then pointing to Duffy's crated lorry parked
nearby said, "For a start, I'd easily throw it over
the back of that lorry, could you?" "I could,
of course, that's child play, you go first," challenged
the tinker surmising Joe was bluffing. "Right"
said Joe, taking of his cap and giving it to a friend to
hold; loosening his tunic collar, he picked up the weight
and placed it on the ground near the lorry; by this time
about 20 onlookers had gathered. "All's clear behind
the lorry" confirmed a number of voices in unison.
With one heave and to the cheers of the onlookers, Joe sent
the 56lb weight sailing high over the back of the lorry.
As one of the onlookers was retrieving the weight, Joe turned
to the tinker and said "your turn now." Seeing
his man was a bit hesitant, he added, "Throw high now:
if you hit the truck, you'll have to pay the damage."
Observing that the man was more than a little ponderous,
he politely added "maybe you'd prefer to have your
throw some other day; sure I understand you're probably
a bit exhausted from your earlier exertions; come for a
rest to the barracks and we can talk about it." The
much-relieved man, anxious not to loose his reputation in
front of the gathering, with relief replied. "Right
Guard, lets go to the barracks and agree things." One
of the onlookers remarked "that Guard is a very holy
man" and someone responded, "He's a holy bloody
Garda Con Randles:
Garda Con Randles, a 28 year old blocky well proportioned
Kerryman, was stationed in Glangevlin in 1951. Con took
great pride in his appearance, with rannai (tache) neatly
trimmed and uniform well pressed, he was spick and span
as he patrolled the roads wearing his brown leather gloves
in all weathers; he had the slow walk of a pensive man,
and like Garda Gunner Brady, had his own method of preventing
and resolving altercations. During his training day in the
Depot, he had earned a reputation in the noble art of self
One day, the barrack sergeant, Ted Murray, received a telephone
enquiry from the neighbouring cross border police (R.U.C)
as to protocol for inviting an appropriate member of the
Gardai to box in a friendly tournament in 10 days time against
a member of a visiting British police team. The caller explained
that their heavyweight had become ill and they had a problem
getting a replacement at short notice. He was very surprised
at the sergeant's quick response of "sure I've a young
guard in the barrack here whom I'm sure would gladly oblige
ye; hold on; I'll ask him; he's here now" within a
few moments he replied to the caller, "yes, my man
would be glad to oblige."
The caller diplomatically explained that he was just enquiring
about the procedure for inviting a suitable representative,
proficient in the noble art, from neighbouring cross border
county and not just a Guard from the nearest country station.
He indicated that the opponent would be top rate and the
question of safety for all concerned was a prime consideration.
"My man boxed a small bit when training in the Depot;
we'll put him immediately in the hands of a good trainer;
he seems anxious to oblige because he's a bit bored here
at the moment; this will be good for him," replied
the sergeant adding, "he'll put up a good show".
Arrangements were agreed. Con who had been listening to
the sergeant's responses asked, "Who is this good trainer
I'm immediately going to have?" and the sergeant replied
"your good friend, the young curate, Fr Keogan; all
he's got to do is keep you off the drink until the day of
the fight - I'll phone him now and the two of ye can have
a chat." "I see," replied Con, "and
I take it I'm on light duty until the fight?". "That's
right, no duty unless there's an emergency" replied
the sergeant. "I didn't like your comment - he'll put
up a good show," replied Con angrily. "Good! you're
getting into the right frame of mind already," replied
The day of the boxing tournament arrived. Fr Keoghan and
the sergeant received guest invitations to the event; Con's
training had gone well; Fr Keoghan had succeeded in keeping
him on the dry.
The bout was announced as the feature event of the evening,
the announcer paying tribute to their guest substitute Con
Randles, a member of a neighbouring cross border Garda station:
he said that Con had sportingly agreed at short notice to
substitute for their heavyweight who was ill. The announcer's
tone and inferences seemed to indicate that Con had little
The bell sounded for the first round; it lasted just a few
seconds; Con rushed from his corner, threw one punch which
floored his opponent who was counted out. Afterwards, a
good night was enjoyed by all.