Joining The Force

Brendan Walsh

Interviewed 7 July 2021

JOINING AN GARDA SÍOCHÁNA

In this piece of audio, Brendan Walsh, a native of Dublin speaks about his decision to join An Garda Síóchána in 1982. He reflects on the influence of a local Guard who encouraged him to join the force when he was a young man. Brendan also reflects on his experience of training to become a Garda at the Templemore Training College, in County Tipperary.

BRENDAN WALSH: But then life took a turn. I used to still help my father collecting money and, um, his round was in Terenure, and every Thursday I’d collect him on a particular road, and there was a serving Garda Sergeant on the road who took an interest in me. He was a lovely man. His name was Pat McHugh. And he encouraged me to think about joining for the Guards, which hadn’t really entered my mind at all at that stage. I had no family background in the Guards. There was no history of anybody ever joining. So, um, it was kind of from left field. So I there was a recruitment campaign on at the time, so I stuck my name in and said I’d give it a go, and before I knew it, um, I found myself up in the depot doing a medical, and not much longer after that I found myself down at Heuston Station with my suitcase. We were given a list of what we were required to bring to Templemore.

FRANK DREW: And what year was that?

MR. WALSH: That was April 1982. I went into Templemore on 27th April 1982. Ehm, we got a list from the depot in Templemore of a couple of shirts, toothpaste, soap, a comb. It was a fairly simple list of what was required and what was to bring with us. I got on the train and, um, left the train and didn’t really know where I was going to go, but that train journey brought me on an eventful journey career-wise and life-wise as well. It was a great adventure. Met some great people along the way. Had some interesting times.

MR. DREW: Right. So tell us a bit about Templemore now. What was your impressions of it?

MR. WALSH: Well Templemore was I remember us waiting outside the gate to be let in. It was all very strict. Ehm, everybody seemed to be following orders down there. It was very much like a boarding school. There was three of us in a room, sharing with two other, two other, two other guys. You had to make your bed every morning. You had to have the room clean. There was regular inspections. Parade every morning. Given our uniforms. Given our it was I suppose the first week there was like an avalanche of information. You were given your reg number , which didn’t really mean much to you, but now it’s tattooed on to my brain never to be forgotten. Um, we were given a list of dos and don’ts. And there was more don’ts than dos. Um, there was I think 22 or 23 of us, maybe 24 in the class. There was six women in the class. Ehm, we were told we had a senior man in the class who was the go to, to raise any matters on our behalf, which never really arose. Um, it was like it was difficult it was, you know, meals were at a certain time. It was very regimented. It was very strict. There was, you know, there was you were pulled up in the morning for your haircut, or, you know, you’d get this sharp rap on the back, the middle of your back, “haircut. Step forward a pace”. Your name was taken. Like it was…

MR. DREW: That would have been on the parade ground.

MR. WALSH: On the parade ground, yeah. Every morning. So like they were like the I’m sure people will remember the drill, people that were there, and some of the some of them people that were doing the training as well, swimming, there was a couple of people who were who had gone down in Garda folklore for their uncompromising attitude, let’s say, towards students, or recruits as we were, recruit Garda. So, yeah, it was a quick like, you know, six months, it was…

MR. DREW: Did you get off weekends or?

MR. WALSH: Yeah, we came home to Dublin every most weekends. One I was lucky I had no car, I was used to cycling around Dublin, and one of our group had a car, so we left Templemore every Friday afternoon, and Sunday we met on O’Connell Bridge, ehm, it was as brown Ford Capri, I’ll never forget it, and the soundtrack of that summer was Simon & Garfunkel, the concert in Central Park. Every time I hear that I’m transported back to those Sunday evenings driving back to Templemore. The other thing that stands in my mind is the sport. It was 1982, the World Cup was on in Spain, and Italy won the final. That was also happy memory of watching games together and making new friends and, um, and then in September we Passed Out and we were given our listed stations, and I found out I was going to Kilmainham in Dublin.