Joining The Force

Patrick Campell

Interviewed 11 October 1977

A NEW FORCE

Patrick Campbell was born in Aughrim in County Galway on 26th January 1902. He joined An Garda Síochána on the 25th March 1922 and served in the force until the 3rd May 1956. He passed away on the 2nd December 1979, just two years after he was recorded. Patrick was one of the earliest members of An Garda Síochána (his registered number was 480).

A Legacy Recording: This recording was originally undertaken on 11th October 1977. This was a tape presented to the GRSMA Oral History Project by Detective Garda Joe Cullinane, widower of Anne Cullinane, who was the daughter of Patrick Campbell. The interview with Patrick Campbell was undertaken by Sergeant Gregory Allen, a one-time curator of the Garda Museum, who published a book on the Garda Síochána called “The Garda Síochána: Policing Independent Ireland from 1922 to 1982”. The tape has been digitized and integrated into the Capturing Our Story Project. John O’Brien, a member of the Project Steering Group undertook significant work in researching and providing context and detail on the interview contents, which have been digitally embedded within the full recording.

Patrick Campbell: And we were there and we didn’t — divil a bit about doing much, in other words parades and all the rest of it, but one day anyhow the hum went around that they were forming up a police force. So I think about a dozen of us got together and we said we’d go to the commanding officer who was one of the Brennans, the Clare Brennans. I think it was Austin that was in it
at the time. And we approached him and he was very, very, very, very receptive, and he told us, yes, they are forming a police force in Dublin, he says, if they haven’t formed it already. So we told him our intentions and…

Gregory Allen: Did you hear the name of this police force at this stage?

CAMPBELL:  No. No. Not at all. I’ll send you, he says, for — Lenaboy Castle,
he says, for an exam.

Gregory Allen: Glenboy?

MR. CAMPBELL:: Lenaboy Castle in Galway. Now evidentially they were starting recruiting there you see. And he did. And we went up. And a couple of days afterwards we were told that I think we all got through it, but in all I means I was told that I was successful, and I got directions to go home.

Gregory Allen:  Who was doing — who was supervising the…(INTERJECTION)?

MR. CAMPBELL: He was, he was — I only knew one of them. He
was — oh…(INTERJECTION).

Gregory Allen: Was he a military man?
MR. CAMPBELL:  No. No, no, he wasn’t. He was — I think he was one of the, one of the Galway volunteers. But he had this official job.
MR. CAMPBELL:  He was a Sergeant in the Guards afterwards himself.
He’s dead and buried now, Lord have mercy on him. But we got through the
examination and we…(INTERJECTION).

Gregory Allen:  And we’re still in February?
MR. CAMPBELL: We’re still in February. Everything moved pretty quickly.

MR. CAMPBELL: Oh, yes! Oh, positively. So it would be — oh, it would be well
into February. Because the police force was formed at the time. You’re uncomfortable.

Gregory Allen: No, I’m not uncomfortable, Pat. Please. Please, Pat, go ahead.
MR. CAMPBELL: It was formed, and we went home and I got the necessary
documents. When I went back home, a period of about three weeks or a month would nearly have elapsed I’d say, from when I left, and I discovered that the divisional IRA at home was on the other side and I entered it. Subsequently TD, Paddy Behan was his name, God rest his soul, and I went to Paddy’s house. So we had a talk anyhow and I told him what my intentions were. Well, he says, “I wish you the best of luck”, he says, “but I’m not sympathetic”, he says, “towards what’s going to be done or what has been done”, but, he says, “I’ll give you a reference anyhow”, he says, “and I wish you the best of luck”. Got the PP’s reference and the next thing was I got a letter from — to report to Ballsbridge Training Centre on 25th March 1922, and that
I’d be met at this railway station. 

Gregory Allen: At what?

MR. CAMPBELL: At the railway station. At Broadstone (inaudible) it was at that time. In Dublin.

Gregory Allen: Who gave you those instructions?
MR. CAMPBELL:  From Ballsbridge.
By letter?
MR. CAMPBELL: Yes. And…(INTERJECTION).
And you’re talking about March now?
MR. CAMPBELL: I’m talking about March. Yes. That morning I went in and got
the train in Ballinasloe and sure the train — there was plenty of fellas who was in Oranmore with me, and some of the lads that was in Limerick…(INTERJECTION). Were on the bloomin’ train! There was a crowd of us going up. Yes. And we went to — we arrived into the Broadstone and there was an old Crossley tender there. I don’t know whether you saw them or not?

Gregory Allen: In pictures. In photographs.
MR. CAMPBELL: In old photographs. So you know the type they were.
Yes. That’s right.

MR. CAMPBELL: And the man that was driving the Crossley tender, I afterwards found out was Tommy McDonagh, who is a retired Chief Superintendent now living in Dundalk. And got into that, and sure hammers the hell through the city up to Ballsbridge. And we were brought into the big exhibition hall. 

Gregory Allen: Had you yet discovered what the title of The Force was?
MR. CAMPBELL: No. None! Had not the foggiest. Hadn’t the foggiest!
Except it was going to be…(INTERJECTION).
MR. CAMPBELL: Only that there was going to be something like the
RIC…(INTERJECTION). (Inaudible) RIC.
Yes. Including the arms.
MR. CAMPBELL:  Yes. And…(INTERJECTION).
No, that’s fair enough. Yes.
MR. CAMPBELL: No, I didn’t know now whether it was a cannon or a pencil they’d give us.
Gregory Allen: Yes. Were you prepared, Pat, is it fair to ask, can you be — it is such a long time ago, but assuming that you found that it was going to be the RIC in a different uniform, arms and all, you were a young man at the time.
MR. CAMPBELL: Yes. 20 years of age.  
Gregory Allen: Would you have gone in still?
MR. CAMPBELL: Oh, yes! I was — it’d be like this, I’d go with the crowd.
(Laughs).