Interviewed on 12th October 1977
Patrick Campbell was born in Aughrim in County Galway in January 1902. He joined An Garda Síochána on the 25th March 1922 and served in the force until May 1956. He was one of the earliest members of An Garda Síocána (registered number 480). Patrick was twenty years of age when in February 1922, he heard about the formation of a new Irish police force to replace the RIC.
A LEGACY RECORDING: This recording was originally undertaken on 11th October 1977. The tape was presented to our Project, by Detective Garda Joe Cullinane, widower of Anne Cullinane, who was the daughter of Patrick Campbell. The interview was undertaken by Sergeant Gregory Allen, a one-time curator of the Garda Museum, and author of The Garda Síochána: Policing Independent Ireland from 1922 to 1982. The tape has now been digitized and integrated into our Archive. John O’Brien, a member of the Centenary Working Group undertook significant work in providing context and detail on the interview, which have been digitally embedded within the full recording.
Here, Patrick recalls Eoin O’Duffy giving a speech in October 1922, prior to his deployment to the country as a guard. O’Duffy had only recently left the Irish Army to take up the post as Garda Commissioner, in response to increasing indiscipline in the force:
PATRICK CAMPBELL: I can well remember it, was a big parade above in the Castle, in Ship Street, he got up on a Crossley tender, about, about men were about to be sent out of the country. And what they were going to — what they’d have to contend with. Ehm, well that the state of the country and things to watch and things to avoid. No. 1 was he had — he strongly advised any man that was fond of drink that he should make a vow to give it up, and to help him he had the President of the Pioneers Association was down in his office. Would be happy to talk to anybody. You could go in there. And that was where I got the pioneer pin … By God I have it to this day … Didn’t know the taste of it. Didn’t know the taste of it. And I often and often was very glad that I had it.
INTERVIEWER: Yes. But to get back to [Eoin] O’Duffy now
MR. CAMPBELL: He, had the big parade and that men — the usual thing, you see, that men were not to forget that they were now wearing the uniform of the National Police Force. That it would be some time before the general public — when they go to — and that the general public would get it out of their head about the men that preceded them. As policemen.
INTERVIEWER: Yes. Had he anything to say about the RIC?
MR. CAMPBELL: No — about — what? Well, I think he did — he made reference to them now as that they were, they were — he said up to a point they were decent men, or something like that, and that if we conducted ourselves as well, from a disciplinary point of view, that we wouldn’t be doing bad. Do you see. And that they had – there was the black sheep in it and the usual thing.
MR. CAMPBELL: Well did he have anything to say about the actual physical dangers that you were facing?
MR. CAMPBELL: Oh, he had! Oh, he had I think, I think he must — I think it was there I heard reference to the no guns. No guns … It was there I heard reference to it.
INTERVIEWER: And, now, when he spoke about the fact that there was to be an unarmed force, did he have anything to say about the possible consequences of this?
MR. CAMPBELL: Well I don’t know. I have no vision — I have no — I cannot think now whether he made reference to that or not. But he did, he did, he did, he did impress upon us… …the big job that was ahead. To get the country back on its wheels again. And he said, number 1, he says — I hope there’ll be no publican ever listening to this … Number 1, he said, is your best — the first person, he says, to welcome you now, he says, on your arrival, he says, will be the local publican. And he says, therefore you have to put on your guard [laughs].