MR. O’BRIEN: It is the 19th of October 2021, and this is a recording of an interview that took place between Martin Drew of the GSRMA the Garda Síochána Retired Members Association in conjunction with the Oral History Project being run by that Association.
He is in conversation with retired Deputy Commissioner Walter Ignatius Rice, registered number 18595. Now, Mr. Rice is more popularly known amongst all as Nacie Rice, and retired Deputy Commissioner Rice has had a very distinguished career in the Garda Síochána, serving in many different parts of the country, particularly featuring in the security front with active duty all over the country in that regard. He is also the holder of a Scott Medal for bravery. At the penultimate stage of his career, he was attached to Garda Headquarters as a Deputy Commissioner.
Now, as I say, he is in conversation with Martin Drew and he understands and is happy to cooperate with the aims and objectives of the Garda Síochána Oral History Project.
MR. DREW: So we’ll just start off with your early background, what you did when you were a young fella and what made you join the Guards. So, off you go so.
MR. RICE: Ah, there’s one. Ehm, well funny enough, when I did the Leaving Certificate in Castlebar, I did the interview for national teaching and I got it, and, eh, I was set to go to St. Pat’s, as it was, to do the national teaching. But I never really I never wanted to go there. And from my earliest days that I could remember, I wanted to be a Guard, and I can’t give you any great reason and logic for it, but I knew a lot of the older Guards in Castlebar and I liked kind of what they did.
Equally I had a brother, an older brother who was in the Metropolitan Police in London, and he was all the time trying to get me to go over and join in London, but I didn’t like England, nothing political or anything, I just didn’t like England, I liked Ireland, and that was the way it was. And that was part of the reason why I joined, more than anything else.
I went to college in Galway and I studied for a while and I said “no, this is not for me, I want to join the Guards”. So the first opportunity once I hit 18 years of age, I applied for the Guards and I was off to Templemore.
MR. RICE: Well, you know, it’s gas, like I mean Templemore was talk about a rude awakening, even for me like. I mean I wasn’t expecting anything special, but, Jesus, it was I suppose it was your worst nightmare of a military camp really, because that’s the way it was ruled with a military hand. And I remember the first night we went and after we had to still get a haircut and they let us into the swimming pool, and somebody I was sitting on the bank, I wasn’t doing anything at all. I had been I could swim, I was swimming, but I had sat on the bank for a while and somebody jumped in, didn’t even know him, and he did this belly flop and a few laughed, and I kind of laughed with it, and of course who was in charge of the pool at night only the bold Reggie Barrett. Well, he took strips off us! And he told us we were going to be sacked the next day. And we were banned from the pool from that day until a few of us went to the deputation to another Sergeant Byrne, who was actually a lovely man, a lovely man, and explained our position, and we said we’d apologise, but we didn’t know what we had to apologise for. Make a long story short anyway, he intervened and reluctantly Reggie let us back into the pool.
Now, story, move the story forward to when I was training with the ERU. I became a very close friend of Reggie Barrett.
MR. RICE: And I often told him this story, often told him the story, but he wouldn’t believe me. He said “no, that didn’t happen. I was never like that”, and I said, “the hell you were!”
But anyway, we did our training in Templemore, and come November we got our stations, and I remember another guy Peadar Moran and myself were being sent to Letterkenny. Now we left Templemore, we had no cars, no Guards had cars at the time, and we left for the train in Templemore with a case and a cardboard box.