A Century of Keeping People Safe
Early 1922 was a fraught time for Ireland. The new Irish Free State faced many challenges a century ago. There were tensions surrounding the Treaty between the Irish and British Governments, resulting in the threat of Civil War, and the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) that had policed Ireland since 1822 was about to be disbanded, leaving Ireland with no operating police service.
Then at 7pm on February 9th 1922, Michael Collins, the Chairman of the Provisional Government of Ireland, convened a secret meeting to form a ‘Police Organising Committee’. It was held in Room 85 in the Gresham Hotel, Dublin.
The attendees were TDs, military veterans, and hand-picked serving or former members of the RIC and Dublin Metropolitan Police, chosen for their professionalism, expertise and ability to quickly train recruits to form a brand-new police force for a fledgling new Irish Free State. Among those present was Michael Staines TD, who would go on to become the first Garda Commissioner.
This meeting was a crucial event in Irish history – its outcomes would help to bring stability to the country that year and pave the way for the formation of An Garda Síochána and how it would operate.
Those first recruited as Gardaí passed out at a ceremony in the RDS, Dublin on February 21st, 1922. Dublin Castle, the centre of British rule was then formally handed over on August 17th, 1922 when the then Garda Commissioner, Michael Staines led his new police service through the castle gates for the first time.
The new Garda recruits steadily gained the trust and respect of the people of Ireland which set a firm foundation for An Garda Síochána to serve communities as an unarmed police service for the century to come.
While commemorative events did take place during the Golden Jubilee in 1972 and to mark the 75th Anniversary of An Garda Síochána in 1997, this Centenary year presents a unique opportunity to reflect on the role of An Garda Síochána in Ireland.
- An Garda Síochána, Photo Archive: The creation of an online archive showing photographs from the extensive archives of the Garda National Technical Bureau including crime scenes, vehicles, station parties, major incidents and events which date to the 1920s. This site will be updated regularly with new images.
- A ‘Day in The Life’ photography project will take place online on 21st February 2022 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the first member of An Garda Síochána passing out at the RDS, Dublin.
- Presentation of a Centenary Service Medal to all serving and retired Garda members.
- ‘Police Vehicles Ireland’ (PVIRL) will preserve, restore and then display Garda cars and motorcycles from through the years.
- The publication of two books about An Garda Síochána will be launched during 2022.
Commemorating 100 Years
The first looks at An Garda Síochána over the last 100 years, ranging from the first and second generations of Gardaí to policing modern Ireland. Heavily illustrated with photographs, the book covers a wide range of subjects including policing the border, the JFK visit, the Scott Medal, UN service and investigating the most serious crimes. Many serving and retired members and Garda Personnel have contributed to this landmark publication
The second publication will celebrate the women who have served the organisation with distinction. Starting with the pioneers who joined in 1959 and right up to the present day, the book will profile women who have excelled in various roles and ranks within An Garda Síochána
- In collaboration with Local Authorities temporary exhibitions of Garda history and heritage will take place in many counties. Full details will be provided as events are confirmed.
- The Garda Museum in Dublin Castle is undergoing a refurbishment and digitisation of historical records.
- The renovation of the Cenotaph at Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park to include the names of Garda members who were killed in the line of duty.
- A specially commissioned piece of music by the composer Odhrán O’Chasaide will be performed by Garda Band at the Commemorative Event in Dublin Castle on the August 27th, 2022.
To mark the centenary of An Garda Síochána, a series of local and national commemorative events are planned for the year ahead.
- 24th May 2022: Gresham Hotel, Dublin to commemorate the inaugural meeting of the committee which founded An Garda Síochána.
- 27th August 2022: National Commemorative Event in Dublin Castle.
Source: An Garda Síochána