Garda ar Lár

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Garda ar Lár
RTÉ Garda ar Lár logo.jpg
Genre Documentary
Starring Various Gardaí
Country of origin Ireland
Original language(s) English, Irish
No. of series 2
No. of episodes At least 5
Running time 30 minutes
Original channel RTÉ One
External links

Garda ar Lár (Irish pronunciation: [ˈɡɑːɾˠd̪ˠə ɛɾʲ ˈl̪ˠɑːɾˠ]; English: Garda Down) is an Irish television series, the second season of which was broadcast on RTÉ One throughout January and February 2009. It examines incidents where members of the country's Garda Síochána (an unarmed police force) lost their lives since the foundation of the state. Over thirty members of the force have lost their lives in this time.[1] The series was broadcast each Monday at 19:30.

Episode list[edit]

Series two[edit]

Programme one[edit]

The first programme of the second season examined the case of Sergeant Patrick Morrissey and was broadcast on 19 January 2009. The murder of Morrissey was described by RTÉ's Security Correspondent at the time, Tom McCaughren, as "an execution".[2] The sergeant was pursuing two men following the Ardee Employment Exchange robbery in 1985. Morrissey's murderers, Noel Callan and Michael McHugh, were the last two men sentenced to death in Ireland.[2] However, their sentence was commuted to forty years incarceration, with neither qualifying for release under the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement and both men are still in prison.[2]

Programme two[edit]

The second programme of the second season examined the case of Garda Seamus Quaid and was broadcast on 26 January 2009. Quaid, from a hurling background in Limerick, was a member of the Wexford hurling team since his arrival in the town in October 1958.[3] He befriended the hurler Ned Wheeler and both competed in the 1960 All Ireland Senior Hurling Final, famously winning.[3] In January 1972, seven men, including Peter Rogers, escaped from the prison ship Maidstone, moored in Belfast Lough, by darkening their bodies, sawing through a ship port hole and swimming to shore.[3] The magnificent seven, as they were later referred to,[3] appeared at a press conference in Dublin the following morning.[3] Rogers later moved to Wexford, marrying but still participating in republican activities.[3] On 13 October 1980, Rogers was moving a large amount of arms and explosives via his vegetable van.[3] Earlier that day, a bank robbery had taken place in Callan, County Kilkenny; Seamus Quaid and a colleague, Donal Lyttleton, were sent to monitor Rogers's movements.[3] Unable to locate him, they set off back for Wexford that night, only to pass his van on a lonely Wexford road.[3] Both men were familiar with Rogers and Lyttleton left his gun in the police car.[3] But, whilst searching the van, Rogers pulled his gun on the pair.[3] Lyttleton managed to escape, whereas Rogers was injured and made his way to a neighbour's house, the Kellys'.[3] Seamus Quaid was left lying badly injured on the ground; he was dead within fifteen minutes. The death caused major division in the Wexford community.[3]

Programme three[edit]

The third programme of the second season examined the case of Garda Patrick Gerard Reynolds and was broadcast on 2 February 2009. The case of Reynolds's murder lasted for eighteen years.[4] Reynolds grew up in rural County Sligo, joining the Gardaí in 1978. As a young recruit he was stationed at Tallaght, Dublin, eventually joining the motorcycle division.[4] On 19 February 1982, he was on night duty. Dublin was having a busy weekend; a General Election had been held that week and, in the Five Nations Championship, the Irish rugby union team was competing against the Scottish rugby union team at Lansdowne Road on the Saturday in a match Reynolds was due to attend alongside his brother, his sister and some friends.[4] At 01:30, an anonymous phonecall came through to the station, stating that suspicious activity was taking place in a block of flats in Tallaght.[4] Five Gardaí left to investigate and, upon their arrival at 33 Avonbeg Gardens, two of them forced their way inside, where they found a number of armed men counting the proceeds of a bank robbery.[4] Following a struggle, two of the gunmen fled the flat, faced with an unarmed 23-year-old Reynolds, who retreated back down the stairs.[4] However, he was shot in the back and bled to death as his killer escaped.[4] The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) were the main suspects, chiefly a Belfast man, Sean "Bap" Hughes.[4] In late 1982, his whereabouts were tracked down to France with Gardaí who believed they saw him in Tallaght that night being sent to identify him. Extradition proceedings dragged on for a number of years, with the delay resulting in the extradition being refused by the French courts in 1987.[4] Hughes served some time in a French jail on false passport charges, but was then deported and thought to have disappeared to Africa.[4] In 1997, he was back in Ireland, captured by an off-duty Garda, Michael Noel Canavan, after he had robbed the Bank of Ireland branch on Main Street in Foxford, County Mayo.[4] Senior detectives identified him by his tattoos and he was tried for the capital murder of Reynolds in March 2000 – however, the court did not accept the prosecution case against Hughes and he was acquitted of the murder.[4]

Programme four[edit]

The fourth programme of the second season examined the dramatic and politically important case of Garda Michael Clerkin and was broadcast on 9 February 2009. On the night of 16 October 1976, Gardaí were deliberately lured to an isolated abandoned farmhouse in County Laois. The house had been booby trapped with explosives, and 24-year-old Garda Michael Clerkin, from Monaghan and only four years in the force,[5] was killed. Detective Tom Peters was also seriously injured and left both deaf and blind, whilst colleagues Jim Cannon, Ben Thornton and Gerry Bohan survived the attack unscathed. It occurred just after President Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh signed the Emergency Powers Bill into law, which during turbulent times aimed to increase the period of detention without charge from two to seven days. Gardaí in Portlaoise received an anonymous phone call stating that subversive activity was ongoing at a disused house at Garryhinch, with a plot to kill local Fine Gael TD Oliver J. Flanagan.[5] Portlaoise phoned the local Portarlington Station, just three miles from Garryhinch and Sergeant Jim Cannon was advised to go to the disused house.[5] Cannon brought two uniformed Gardaí with him, Gerry Bohan and Michael Clerkin, and the two joined forces with Detectives Tom Peters and Ben Thornton on the way.[5] Clerkin used an open rear window to enter the house, opening the front door from the inside to let the others in, triggering the booby trap and killing himself instantaneously.[5] The house had to be demolished in the aftermath.[5] The next day, the Minister for Defence Paddy Donegan, made what became known as his infamous "thundering disgrace" remarks, aimed at Ó Dálaigh for his actions regarding the Emergency Powers Bill.[6][7][8][9] The President subsequently resigned.[6][8][9] Despite many arrests, nobody was ever convicted of the murder.[5] Jim Cannon, Ben Thornton and Gerry Bohan were eventually able to return to work; however, Detective Tom Peters was left deaf and blind by the blast.[5] The survivors were presented with the Liddy Medal by the Garda Síochána Retired Members Association, a special medal for bravery awarded to retired Gardaí who have never received the more prestigious Scott Medal.[5]

Programme five[edit]

The fifth programme of the second season examined the case of Garda Recruit Gary Sheehan and was broadcast on 16 February 2009. On 24 November 1983, Englishman Don Tidey was delivering his 13-year-old daughter to school when on the road outside his home in south Dublin he was stopped at what appeared to be a Garda checkpoint, but was in fact a Provisional IRA trap.[10][11] However, the bogus gardaí produced guns and kidnapped the Quinnsworth supermarket executive, holding him for three weeks.[11] A manhunt ensued and Don Tidey became a household name.[11] The Quinnsworth supermarket chain appealed to the public across all their stores and television appeals by Tidey's three children were even more poignant as their mother had only recently died. Intelligence led to the search returning to North Leitrim and, weeks before Christmas, a co-ordinated search code-named Operation Santa Claus was mounted in Ballinamore.[11] The operation was treated so highly that the army as well as hundreds of Gardaí and even Garda Recruits, still in training, became involved.[11] On 16 December, Inspector Séamus O'Hanlon's group recommenced their search following lunch in Drumcromin wood, near Derrada a few miles north of Ballinamore.[11] They stumbled upon the kidnappers' hideout in a thicket with low visibility - what followed was a confusing and chaotic.[11] The kidnappers fired on the searchers and escaped, with several Gardaí and army personnel being taken hostage along the way.[11] Don Tidey managed to free himself from the kidnappers in the chaos and was found by the Garda.[11] However, searches of the scene located the bodies of Garda Recruit Gary Sheehan and Private Patrick Kelly, shot dead within metres of the camouflaged black plastic covered hideout.[11] As the operation to hunt down the killers intensified around Ballinamore, the story quickly went international.[11] Nobody has ever been held to account for the deaths.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About the Show". RTÉ. Accessed 26 February 2009.
  2. ^ a b c "Programme 1: Sergeant Patrick Morrissey". RTÉ. Accessed 26 February 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Programme 2: Garda Seamus Quaid". RTÉ. Accessed 26 February 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Programme 3: Garda Patrick Gerard Reynolds". RTÉ. Accessed 26 February 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Programme 4: Garda Michael Clerkin". RTÉ. Accessed 26 February 2009.
  6. ^ a b "Presidents come and go, but job is a waste of their time and our money". Irish Examiner. 19 April 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  7. ^ 1976: Thundering Disgrace. Behind Closed Doors. RTÉ. Accessed 5 March 2009.
  8. ^ a b "Politicians pay tribute to Paddy Donegan". RTÉ. 26 November 2000. Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  9. ^ a b "How 'thundering disgrace' led to President resigning". Irish Independent. 29 December 2006. Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  10. ^ MacConnell, Eoghan (2 December 2012). "Military Star for soldier who died freeing Provo kidnap victim Don Tidey". Irish Independent. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Programme 5: Garda Recruit Gary Sheehan". RTÉ. Accessed 26 February 2009.

External links[edit]