Women in the Gardaí

Ann Reilly

Garda Ann Reilly with President Eamon De Valera on his last public appearance on 4th May 1973.

‘ONE GIRL [GARDA] ON CALL … FOR THE WHOLE CITY’

 Interviewed on 20 September 2021

Ann Reilly, a native of Tallanstown in County Louth, joined An Garda Siochána in 1968. In this recording, undertaken by Rita Delaney, Ann speaks about the experience of being a female garda (then referred to as a Bean Garda), in Dublin in the early 1970s.

ANN REILLY: One Bean Garda on call every night. Between Store Street and Pearse Street there was one girl on call every night for the whole city. For the whole city. And I was called out three times one night. I was just back at home getting into bed when called out again and called out a third time, until 9:00 o’clock the next morning.

RITA DELANEY: And do you mind if I ask what you were called out for?

MS. REILLY: Indecency cases. Three of them. They were indecency cases. So that, you know, like there was only one, one girl so like you mightn’t be called out at all but then, you know, if you were called, if you were needed, you went, and that’s just it, you know.

MS. DELANEY: And do you mind if I ask you, were you paid for going out three times during the night?

MS. REILLY: No, not in the beginning we weren’t (Laughs). We were not. It was part of the deal, I suppose, you could say. No, we were not paid at all in the beginning. But later on, then we were. We got I think we got more time off for it than… Yeah, I think that’s the way it was. You know I just can’t remember just that well now about that part of it, but I think that’s the way it was.

MS. DELANEY: Okay. Ehm, so indecency and that sort of crime. What other duties did Ban Gardaí at the time perform?

MS. REILLY: Well, I suppose we were the same all over the city and we had, ehm well, myself, I was in uniform for some time, and we worked in the courts as well. We did a week in the Court as well in the beginning. Because there were so few of us that, you know, if there was somebody up, up in court, a female up in the Court, someone had to sit with them.

MS. DELANEY: Okay. Okay. And what would they be in front of the Court for? What was their heinous crime? (Laughs)

MS. REILLY: Well, it would be probably pickpocketing or shoplifting or … Something like that, do you know, it would be really.

MS. DELANEY: I didn’t know that. I didn’t I never knew that, that. That females going in front of the courts had Ban Garda with them.

MS. REILLY: Well that was yes, that was the way it was anyway at that time. Now I suppose afterwards, when these people were on different night duties and different things, it may have changed. I don’t know. But that was the way it was.