GARDAI BEAT ARMY TO KILDARE TAKE-OVER
Leinster Leader August 25, 1973
Gardai beat Army to Kildare take-over
A little known fact of the period of 1922 is that the newly formed Garda Siochana took over Kildare Barracks from the British Crown Forces – not the Free State army. This fact of history was recalled last week when Mr. John McFaul, a retired Garda who lives at Castleknock, Dublin, visited our office.
Mr. McFaul, a retired sergeant served in Naas for many years and he has in his possession a photograph of the Garda retinue in Naas taken outside the barracks in 1923. According to Mr. McFaul the Gardai beat the Army by 5 weeks in the take-over of British military installations in Kildare. Although technically the fledgling police force did not take over the Curragh itself (they took over the Royal Horse Artillery Barracks in Kildare town), their part in the historic events, which were commemorated last year, is not generally acknowledged.
Mr. McFaul, on whom the years rest lightly, is a founder member of the Gardai. He says that on April 9th 1922, an advance party of Gardai (including himself) left the R.D.S. showgrounds at Ballsbridge. The group of nearly 300 men travelled by train to Kildare. Later they were joined by 600 new recruits. The party marched from the railway station to the Artillery barracks where they took over from the British troops.
There was a deep contrast between the attire of the new custodians of the law and retiring Crown Forces. All the new Gardai, including Commissioner Mel Staines, Patrick Greenan, Assistant Commissioner and Joseph Ring, Camp Commandant, were in “civvies” as new uniforms had not been tailored. They carried Lee Enfield rifles with bayonets fixed. The British were in full khaki uniforms until a few months later.
On May 15th, the advance party of the Free State forces arrived by train from Dublin and were accommodated in Harepark Camp. Later that night, the party was joined by the Assistant Chief of Staff, Lt. General O’Connell and other officers. As the British moved out, the Camp was formally handed over by Lt. Col. Sir F. Dalrymple to Lt. Gen. O’Connell who later hoisted the Tri-colour over the water tower to complete the proceedings.
The Garda recruits received their training in Kildare before being sent to their respective barracks.
A retired member of the gardi recalls how, in 1922, it was the Garda Siochana and not the Free State Army who took over Kildare barracks from the British Crown Forces.