Women in the Gardaí

Catherine Bartley

Interviewed on 1 October 2021

DROWNING IN THE LIFFEY

Garda Catherine Bartley joined An Garda Síochána in 1987 and retired in 2019, having worked in various sections of the force, latterly the Dog Unit, where she spent many years and became well known for her work with Garda dogs. Catherine was interviewed for the project on 1st October 2021. In this piece of audio, she recalls some of the tragic incidents she encountered while on duty.

JOHN O’BRIEN: I think, Catherine, we know that operational policing can be tough and have particular tragic moments and poignant moments, and I know that, and, you know, one sometimes encounters death in the most unexpected ways. For instance, I know that you and a colleague were involved in recovering a body from the River Liffey. Just maybe talk to us a little bit about where you were and how that happened?

MS. BARTLEY: Well basically, ehm, we were on foot patrol around the Pearse Street area, and there was a call in that there was a body in the Liffey, and we went up to the water’s edge and we were walking along, and we could see the body floating. It was face down in the water, and, ehm, it was near the basin, but there was steps down and, ehm, we had called the fire brigade and we were waiting on them to come to recover the body, but, ehm, the body sort of floated in towards us. So we actually went down the steps and managed to and there’s a bar runs along. So I was holding on to the bar and I was holding on to Frank’s, ehm, bel and he was the one that was grabbing at the body. So we were able to get the body in. The body was recovered. He was an old man.

MR. O’BRIEN: But quite a tough experience. And quite dangerous because the..

MS. BARTLEY: It is the smell that stays with you more than anything. There’s a peculiar smell out of the Liffey and I think that body was in the water for a while. But, ehm, yeah, there’s but no matter what I was at another incident where a man jumped into the Liffey after a row with his girlfriend.

MR. O’BRIEN: And you saw this happening in front of you?

MS. BARTLEY: I saw it happening in front of me. And, ehm, he was pulled out rather quickly at the other side of he went in on Aston Quay and he was pulled out on Burgh Quay. So in the space of like a few minutes. But he was unfortunately dead because the water was so cold he had taken a heart attack. But, ehm, the girlfriend was there and witnessed all of this. But the one thing I can remember is when I brought the lady into the morgue to see the body, ehm, was the smell. And there’s a peculiar smell that comes out of the Liffey. I don’t know what it is.