Interviewed 25 October 2021
JOINING AN GARDA SÍÓCHÁNA
Catherine Clancy was the first woman to be appointed an Assistant Commissioner in An Garda Síochána on 10 September 2003. A native of Donegal, she joined AGS in 1975 and enjoyed steady promotion through the ranks. In 2008, she surprised many of her colleagues when she took early retirement.
For more about the experience of women in AGS, visit HERE In this segment, Catherine reflects on her reasons for joining AGS.
JOHN FARRELLY: We are joined this evening by Retired Assistant Commissioner, Catherine Clancy 0072H and we’re delighted to have you, Catherine. Thank you very much for agreeing to do this and what Catherine has agreed to do is the GSRMA Oral History Project for the centenary of An Garda Síochána next year. John Farrelly is doing the interview and Catherine before I start. I’d just like to say, I welcome you again on behalf of ourselves and what we normally do in relation to these interviews, the first thing we do is, I want people to know a little bit about yourself before you joined the guards. I know you’ve a Donegal accent so you can start by saying you’re from Donegal. Thank you, Catherine, it’s all yours.
RETIRED ASST. COMM. CLANCY: Well in actual fact John, I was born in Dublin but my parents were living in Donegal at that time. So I do claim Donegal. Some people would fight with me over that but yes I do claim Donegal and my father was a guard and I kind of come from a long line of guards. My uncle was also in the guards, his name was Tony D’Arcy. I had another uncle Padraig Clancy, he was in the guards and he was a Sergeant in Monaghan and died early in his life. He died before he retired and I had a granduncle I think in the RIC. So, there’s a history of guards in our family and then because dad moved about, we moved about quite a bit and in those days. If the man of the house moved on promotion or transfer or anything like that, it was lock stock and barrel with the whole lot of us. So, I grew up in different counties. I was in Glenties, I was in Ballyshannon, I was in Castlebar and then finally we moved to Lucan in Dublin where daddy took up a position as an Extradition Sergeant in the Garda Headquarters where he remained until such time as he retired. So yes I do come from a long line of guards in the family.
MR. FARRELLY: So what did you do then before you actually decided to put on the uniform? Like when you left school, what was your ambition and what did you find yourself doing before you joined the guards?
RETIRED ASST. COMM. CLANCY: Well, me deciding to join the guards now might be stretching it a bit. I think maybe my father decided I was going to join the guards. I really wanted to be a teacher and I also had my eye on being an Aer Lingus hostess and I actually went for an interview for that but didn’t quite make it. I used to work with my aunt, my grandmother, my mother in running a guest house in Clifton where daddy was from and another member of my family decided that really that would be a good career for me. So I was actually in I was doing a management course, catering management in Cathal Brugha Street before I joined the guards.
As I say, I did the interview for an air hostess and I did nothing about wanting to be a teacher and then my father came home one day, he had an advertisement from the paper and he put it in front of me and he said, “do you know something, you could do worse”. I looked at it and I thought, you know, maybe I could do worse. I really wasn’t that keen on going into a hotel. I had done a few stints in hotels while I was studying and I wasn’t absolutely mad about it. So, yes, that’s how I joined the guards. That’s where my interest came and as I say, the interests of others more than the interest of me but I hasten to add it was, looking back on it, it certainly was the best move I ever made in my entire life. So, yeah.
MR. FARRELLY: Thank you, daddy. Thank you, daddy.
RETIRED ASST. COMM. CLANCY: Thank you, daddy.