Human Stories

John O’Brien

Interviewed 2020

THE LIGHTER SIDE

John O’Brien from Ballinhassig in Cork joined the Gardaí in 1968. On retiring almost 40 years later in 2006, he had reached the rank of Detective Chief Superintendent. He had also been Head of the National Office for Interpol and Europol.  As a well regarded historian, John has been central to the development of the Capturing Our History GSRMA Oral History Project.  See more about his most recent publication HERE This recording was originally broadcast by John Greene on C103 as part of the radio series, Where the Road Takes Me and was since donated to the RGSMA Archive. Here, John reflects briefly on the lighter side of the Garda experience.

MR. O’BRIEN: So, but I really don’t have any complaints about my times in the Guards, I should say that, John. I had a wonderful, wonderful time. But you’ve got to learn to take the rough with the smooth I think.

MR. GREENE: You did spend a considerable amount of your career as well taking up the cudgel for complaints within the Gardaí and improving conditions for them. To a certain extent that was it a Superintendent once said to you “you can be very difficult to deal with” ?

MR. O’BRIEN: (Laughs). Yes. Yes, yes, that’s right. By the way, like we’ve been talking, John, about very serious stuff in all the course of this. I can also say there was great humour in the Guards from time to time and, we came across hilarious situations. Like a colleague of mine who was escorting in very solemn circumstances a funeral on his motorbike, and doing the appropriate thing, thinking he knew where he was going, but obviously he didn’t. He drove down a cul de sac, a narrow little street in Dublin. Had to reverse everybody back out and resume. So, look, I digress, John. So, yeah. No, it is a very interesting, it is a very interesting career.