Interviewed 15 April 2021
‘I GOT A RUSH OF BLOOD TO THE HEAD ONE DAY AND I APPLIED TO JOIN THE GARDA SÍOCHÁNA.’
Inspector Rita Delaney is a retired member of An Garda Siochána. A native of Laois, Rita joined the Gardaí in 1984 and spent three decades in the force, before retiring in 2013. In this piece of audio selected from an interview undertaken on 15 April 2021, Rita outlines her background in Laois and her eventual decision to join An Garda Síochána.
Rita Delaney: After the national school in Shanahoe, just a small place in county Laois, I went to the Brigidine Convent in Abbeyleix. The Brigidine nuns weren’t very well known because they only had four convents, two in Laois, one in Carlow and one in Kildare. They were the most inspirational women that I ever met. It was there I got a love of learning, a love of academics and they taught us about art and music and science and everything in addition to the Leaving Cert subjects. They also had extremely good teachers. They weren’t involved with the orphanages or anything like that, they were just real educators. I remember in my teens I used to smoke, a lot of us did. Those nuns must have known we were smoking because you can smell it off somebody and they never passed a scene, they just let it go. I am sure my parents might have known as well, but they seemed to have let it go as well. They were very inspirational, especially as regards the Irish language and history. My father was a veteran of the War of Independence, so I had a great interest in history. In fact, the history teacher in Abbeyleix came out one day to speak to him and he nearly died, he ran off up the field. He wasn’t going to have a teacher a teacher coming to the house, are you mad? Unheard of and anyway it was my mother’s business, you know. She gave him some tea and he had to go off kind of empty handed. The teacher of Irish, well he sought permission to send me to the Gaeltacht and that is where that started. It was a love affair that started down in Lettermore and it stays with me to this day. Somebody asked me once if I had treasures in my life and, yes, your family and your friends and all that are treasures but one of the treasures I have is that I can speak the Irish language and I am very proud of that. The history thing, of course I am looking forward to next year and our participation in it. I went from there to Saint Patrick’s College in Maynooth where I did Irish and history subjects. I went teaching for a couple of years. Then I got a rush of blood to the head one day and I applied to join the Garda Síochána. I went into Templemore on the 1st June 1984, a ferocious culture shock.