A NEW book by two retired West Cork garda sergeants, Fachtna O’Donovan and Tony McCarthy, was launched by the recently retired State Solicitor, Malachy Boohig, at the Fernhill House Hotel as part of the Clonakilty Garda District centenary commemoration event.
The book The Guards of West Cork 100 Years of Service 1922-2022 is published by the West Cork branch of the Garda Síochána Retired Members Association.
‘It’s not a history of the force over the century,’ Fachtna O’Donovan told The Southern Star, ‘it’s more of a collection of photographs and stories of some of the men and women who have served in the West Cork Garda Division since the first members arrived in November 1922.’
According to Tony McCarthy, those first gardaí arrived to an area ravaged by a bitter and tragic civil war and the brave decision to have them unarmed and non-political was crucial in winning the respect and eventual support of the people.
The authors write that the contribution of those first gardaí in laying the foundation of our democracy, and maintaining it over the last century, is highly commendable.
The book, launched by former State solicitor Malachy Boohig, is excellently illustrated and historically representative as it covers every decade from the 1920s up to this year’s centenary celebrations.
The photographs illustrate all the major events and stories of the time such as major drugs importations, the high profile murder of vice admiral Somerville in Castletownshend in 1936, and the recovery of the stolen Beit paintings in Glandore in 1974.
These are just some of the stories featured in this pioneering book. There’s also a chapter dedicated to the four garda commissioners who were natives of West Cork, namely Daniel Costigan, Eugene Crowley, Pat Byrne and Fachtna Murphy, who wrote a foreword to the book.
An article on Pat Byrne quotes the commissioner from an interview he did with The Southern Star on his retirement in 2003.
Former Southern Star editor Con Downing, whose father was a garda in West Cork, has also contributed to the book.