The Early Years

Patrick Campbell

Interviewed on 12th October 1977



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 May 1956. He passed away in December 1979, just two years after he was recorded. Patrick was one of the earliest members of An Garda Síochána (registered number 480).

A LEGACY RECORDING: This recording was originally undertaken on 11th October 1977. The tape was presented to our Project, by Detective Garda Joe Cullinane, widower of Anne Cullinane, who was the daughter of Patrick Campbell. The interview was undertaken by Sergeant Gregory Allen, a one-time curator of the Garda Museum, and author of The Garda Síochána: Policing Independent Ireland from 1922 to 1982. The tape has now been digitized and integrated into our Archive. John O’Brien, a member of the Centenary Working Group undertook significant work in providing context and detail on the interview, which have been digitally embedded within the full recording. In the selected audio below, Patrick recalls his memories of the formation of the police force in 1922:

PATRICK CAMPBELL: 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 … I’ll send you, he says, for — Lenaboy Castle, he says, for an exam … Lenaboy Castle in Galway. Now evidently 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 events I was told that I was successful, and I got directions to go home.

INTERVIEWER: And we’re still in February [1922]?

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. 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 OC 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.

INTERVIEWER: Who gave you those instructions?

MR. CAMPBELL: From Ballsbridge.

INTERVIEWER: 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 … 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.

INTERVIEWER: Had you yet discovered what the title of The Force was?

MR. CAMPBELL: No. None! Had not the foggiest. Hadn’t the foggiest! Only that there was going to be something like the RIC.

INTERVIEWER: Yes. Including the arms.

MR. CAMPBELL: No, I didn’t know now whether it was a cannon or a pencil they’d give us.

INTERVIEWER: 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.

INTERVIEWER: Would you have gone in still?

MR. CAMPBELL: Oh, yes! Oh Yes.