by ehistoryadmin on July 29, 2016

The Garda badge and Herbert Painting of Athy Technical School

James Durney

According to Gregory Allen in his book The Garda Síochána. Policing independent Ireland 1922-82 there is no formal record for the Garda badge. The design was decided and settled before the civil servants in the Department of Home Affairs began to tighten their grip on the force. A photograph of the new Garda badge appeared in the Irish Independent on 18 August 1922, the caption stating that a competition had been held and that John Francis Maxwell, an art teacher in Dún Laoghaire and Blackrock Technical Schools, had submitted the winning design. It appears, however, that Garda Commissioner Michael J. Staines commissioned the design and ordered the badge on his own authority.

As a printed device the badge appeared first in the masthead of the new police magazine, Iris an Gharda (February 1923), designed by J. J. O’Reilly. By April 1923 the badge had become a familiar symbol of government in the Irish Free State. The badge was criticised in the Department of Home Affairs when Staines sought financial sanction for the casting of metal station plaques. The cast-iron station plaques were made by the Duthie and Large foundry, Athy, from a mould by Herbert H. Painting, headmaster of Athy Technical School.

Born and educated in England, Painting was not in sympathy with Celtic art forms, with the result that Maxwell’s design was not fully realised. Herbert Painting was born in Darwen, Lancashire, in 1884, the second child of William and Ann Painting, both employed as hydropathists. In the 1901 Census Herbert is employed as a wheelwright, while in the 1911 Census he gave his occupation as a teacher. He must have left for Ireland shortly after as he is mentioned, in March 1913, as being ‘Vice-Principal of the Technical School, Athy’, while being allocated a house in Pound Field, one of the town’s first local authority housing schemes.

When Victoria Cross winner, Lt. Vincent Holland, returned to his hometown of Athy, on 11 February 1917, he received a presentation scroll from the people of Kildare and also a plate from Kildare Co. Council in the Town Hall. The scroll was the work of Herbert Painting, noted as ‘headmaster at Athy Technical Schools’. Painting resigned his position in Athy, sometime between 1928 and 1931, and moved to Co. Wicklow where he was appointed Chief Executive Officer, Wicklow Vocational Education Committee.

At some stage in his life Herbert Painting returned to England as he died in early 1962 in his birthplace of Darwen, Lancashire, aged seventy-eight.

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