Interviewed 15 April 2021
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 discusses her experience of the Garda Training College in Templemore.
JOHN O’BRIEN (Interviewer): Tell me something a bit about that when you walked into Ionad Traenála na hÉireann Garda Síochána in Templemore what was your first impressions?
MS. DELANEY: I was about to do an about turn, I didn’t know what an about turn was at the time but I subsequently came to know it very well and I thought in the name God what have I gotten myself into. First of all I had a car because I had been teaching so I drove down and they wouldn’t let me in with a car because you have to produce, in them days you had to produce your driving licence, your insurance and they had to check all of the lights and this and that and the other so they wouldn’t let me in. So I had to park outside and I went in and most people, nearly all the people had sisters with them or brothers. There wasn’t so many husbands and wives at the time but a lot of the men, they had their parents with them. I mean, you know, I found that peculiar because I just found that peculiar. That is not the way my family dynamic worked. So they were all there with very short hair and suitcases and Mary D’Estelle Roe, I suppose both of you know her, Mary D’Estelle Roe came and took the women away from the men and she was with us. The college at the time was a very gloomy, dour place. We had to share rooms and there wasn’t even walls going between the rooms and I was not used to that either.
MR. LERNIHAN(Interviewer): It was 1984 I think Rita?
MS. DELANEY: ’84, yeah. When I was at home in Laois I certainly had to share rooms but after that, you know, you might have to share houses and apartments but no, I didn’t share rooms with people. I didn’t like it, I hated it, I mean I hated the room sharing. Then the rigmarole started, and I am surprised it was never filmed, the rigmarole where they come in and they start shouting at you and they make you sign all the forms for all the deductions in your pay and all that sort of thing. Then you have all kinds of people and you are looking at them and you think oh my Lord, who are these it really took me a while to process that in my head and I had no, I really, I suppose I had never come across anything quite like it … I broke my ankle while I was there and I could not leave the college at all for any reason for six weeks. That is just the way the rules were, if you were on sick you could not leave the college.
MR. O’BRIEN: You played hurling of course didn’t you?
MS. DELANEY: I did, yes, and I couldn’t play hurling and I couldn’t go anywhere. I couldn’t go out at night to the pub. I couldn’t go to visit my family. They couldn’t come in to visit me and they were only up the road. My friends from Dublin couldn’t come down the road. We used to go out on Sundays and that and that was the rule and on one occasion, I better not say that because I don’t want to get anyone else into trouble, but I did manage to get out on one occasion. But crazy things like that, things that made no sense at all, you know.
MR. O’BRIEN: What did you like about the college, Rita, or was there anything?
MS. DELANEY: Now you see you are after catching me there because I have to think about it … Yeah, yes of course, friendships. There was 75 of us went in altogether, 50 lads and 25 girls and we were broken into four classes and it was seven girls. Now mathematically it could have been six or five or whatever but I think there were around six or seven girls in the classes. So, yes, you made friends with some people. We were May C so we were the C class in May of ’84. They were a great group, an absolutely great group insofar as there were no, there were no people who you wouldn’t like you know. There was plenty of messers, yeah, but there were no unpleasant people, you know. There is a name for them, assholes or something, there was none of that really like. And friendships, you made friendships and relationships and all of that and of course I have still got four fast friends from those days. We used to meet when times were normal, we used to meet maybe a couple of times a year.