BY HELEN RIDDELL
GARDA Martin Hegarty retired from An Garda Síochána last Wednesday June 30th, after 34 years of service, with 30 of those based at Castletownbere Garda Station.
Clonakility native Garda Hegarty joined the gardaí in May 1987, training at Templemore Garda College. His first posting was to Co Cavan, then moving to Monaghan in 1988 before being posted to Castletownbere in May 1991.
Sgt Stephen O’Sullivan praised Martin for his support. ‘Martin gave me great help and support when I arrived in Castletownbere, he’s at the heart of the local community, he was involved with the community alert scheme, and gave talks to local schools,’ he said.
Martin recalled one of the highlights of his career, the visit in 2003 of the US Navy warship, the USS The Sullivans.
‘That was a huge operation from a security point of view, we had a large number of visitors to the area which increased when all the ship’s crew came ashore,’ he said.
Sadly over the years, Martin has also had to deal with a number of local tragedies: ‘We have had a number of sad occasions in Beara, and being such a close knit area you would know those involved on a personal basis,’ he said.
Recently, Martin was on duty when Taoiseach Micheál Martin visited Castletownbere to meet with local fishermen. ‘Someone mentioned to him that I was due to retire soon after 34 years of service and he made it his business to take time out to wish me well. It was a nice gesture on his part.’
On his last day, Martin’s colleagues arranged for a final patrol tour of the peninsula to allow him to say goodbye to the communities he has served over the years.
A keen cyclist, and member of the local GAA, Martin added: ‘I have nothing planned just yet, maybe in a while I’ll start looking for something to occupy myself!’