After almost 41 years, one of West Cork’s most respected lawmen and Belgooly resident, Garda James O’Mahony, has called time on his career.
Originally from Carrigaholt, Co Clare, James left school at fifteen to run the family farm as his father had taken ill. Later he worked as a barman.
His career in the Gardaí can be best described as accidental, when a friend brought him along to the entrance examination.
Ironically, James passed the exam and his friend did not and he entered Templemore in 1982 and was later posted to Glanmire.
In June 1994, James was transferred to Kinsale and joined the station that included Sergeant Con Carney, Paul Doyle, Gerry O’Shea, Larry Murphy, Denis O’Shea and Gerry O’Leary.
Describing Kinsale as a quieter place than now, James took up residence in Belgooly and married Margaret Horgan from Kilnamartyra and raised their children Michael, David and Mary. A keen sportsman, particularly running, as a rugby injury had prevented him from playing field sports, James joined Riverstick AC before joining Belgooly AC and later helped form Riverstick/Kinsale AC.
During this time, he encouraged many young people to participate in athletics, organising weekly training sessions in Kinsale.
Around this period, James joined the Kinsale Branch of the Red Cross and began running regular teenage discos in the White Lady in Kinsale.
The events gave the young people a place to go, but the money raised helped fund the Red Cross Centre’s building in Kinsale and also directed funds to several humanitarian disaster appeals.
Continuing his career in the Gardaí, James applied for and secured the position of Juvenile Liaison Officer in 1995, a role he retained right up to his retirement.
James’colleague, highly respected Garda Don Davies, who shares the
West Cork Garda juvenile portfolio, said that James is a great man who treats everybody with dignity and respect. He said that James is ‘genuinely able to engage with young people, show them enormous empathy and always tries to help them and that he has had a tremendously positive influence on a generation of young people in West Cork.’
Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan echoed Garda Davies’ comment adding that many young people owed James a massive debt of gratitude for his work.
He also pointed to the success of the annual West Cork Garda Awards, now a national scheme, which James had the foresight to establish, crediting young people for their work in the community.
In the 1990s, James founded the Kinsale Youth Development Fund, regularly supported by Kinsale Lions Club, it helped to fund counselling for many young people.
In 2009, following a survey of those young people he’d met as part of his policing duties, James discovered a lack of resources for the wellbeing of young people in the Kinsale and surrounding districts and in response, Kinsale Youth Support Services (KYSS) was launched in 2010, incorporating local, voluntary and state organisations. The initiative has proven to be highly successful and is now adopted in 13 counties across the country.
Acknowledging James’ central role in founding the voluntary organisation, Geraldine Machin, Secretary of Kinsale Youth Support Services, said: ‘James is a resourceful individual who demonstrates tremendous energy, enthusiasm, and commitment in his work with KYSS. He is a catalyst for bringing people and organisations together, and his enthusiasm and personal commitment brings out the best in everyone.’
Despite hanging up his official badge, James is continuing his work with KYSS three days a week but has promised to give a little more ‘me’ time to himself.
He has also promised to feature more regularly in the Riverstick Rambler’s outings, another initiative he helped to establish.