After 40 years of service with An Garda Síochána, I thought in any line of work, how important it is important to celebrate longevity for many reasons, not the least of which it shows the continuity to adapt, improve and motivate, to the changes brought about by time, techniques and society.
Sergeant Gearoid Keating, this week retired from the RPU (Roads Policing Unit) so I paid a visit to his home in Beaufort for a cupán tae and a chat.
Take me back to Templemore Gearoid?
“In October 1983, I entered a very different Garda Training College to what it is now. From the moment we arrived, we were Gardaí. With over 500 recruits in-house, the routine began immediately with early morning room inspections, followed by marching in full uniform and inspection on our personal hygiene and presentation at random. Lights out by 11:30 pm nightly, and returning home was only permitted three times over our six-month stint in Templemore. Sunday was the best day of the week, as after marching to mass in full uniform, we were free for the day, well at least until 11:30 pm” Gearoid laughed.
So what was in store for you on 'passing out' of Templemore?
“Store Street, that's what was in store!!! Our stationed posts were announced not one minute before we passed out. I was immediately on a bus to Dublin, a city I'd only visited once, to see my native Galway play in Croke Park in 1979.
Store Street Garda Station is one of the busiest stations in Europe and when I arrived, the AIDS, Hepatitis C, Heroin epidemic was at its peak. I arrived with two colleagues, bags in hand where the waiting area was heaving. After announcing ourselves were told to return the next day at 6 pm. Our accents gave us away and we paid three times the fair to the taxi driver who took the scenic route to our board and lodgings in Santry. It was busses from then on which didn't run after midnight so the only solution outside of bus times was to invest in a good bike, which I was knocked off of several times. On my first night on the beat, I was accompanied by senior Garda for half of that shift and the other half was up to me. It was daunting by comparison. A vast change from Gort where my mother was afraid to let me walk down the street alone, to me asking for directions back to Store Street Garda Station after I'd finished my first shift! I was naive but I learned much, fast! I had never seen a heroin addict, not even on TV because it just wouldn't be shown. Initially, the assumption was that diseases such as AIDS and Hepatitis C could be transmitted through contact and this was used to weaponise us on the beat. In those days if arresting a person, you'd have to go directly to the next available court. So if your shift finished at 6 am, the courts wouldn't open til 9 am and some days it was 1 pm before your case would be heard and you'd be back in then for 6 pm that evening. The law has since changed to 30 days to go to court thankfully”.
So what kept you in Dublin Gearoid?
“I soon met my wife Sarah. It was love at first sight. I remained in Dublin for a further 10 years until I was promoted to Sergeant in charge at Burtonport, Co. Donegal. Sarah didn't come with me as she figured a six-hour commute home from Donegal, to see her mother in Co. Kerry, that she might as well be in New York! But we did set off one weekend prior to my post, to check out my new adventure. No sat nav back then! A map and signposts that changed from English to Irish, brought us to 'An Gaeltacht' which included the beautiful Arranmore Island. I soon became a native and I found myself no longer fearful that when someone raised their hand to me it was merely a friendly gesture of greeting. It was a huge change for me to move from the inner city to rural Ireland. I loved it. It was one of my favourite posts but it was short-lived as I was excited to soon become a father to my son Matthew, so I headed south again to Ronanstown, Dublin, for a year and a half, and we welcomed my daughter Niamh during this time”.
Had you become a fan of the Dubs then?
“I suppose I had in ways. After Ronanstown, my next station was Rathmines which was a lovely middle-class area to be stationed at, but I soon relocated to DMR South (Dublin Metropolitan Region) Traffic Unit in Terrenure where I stayed for 2/3 years.
After that, in 2005, I was Kerry-bound with Sarah, Matthew & Niamh, to work in the Roads Policing Unit where I stayed for 15 years.
Is there any one story that sticks out in your mind as a Garda/Sergeant Gearoid?
“There are many Marie, but one I can share is that of a younger Gearoid on a security post outside the GPO. Randomly, a man approached me, frantically pointing at another man on a very crowded busy O'Connell Street. He repeated over again, 'He's wearing my suit'!. He was most insistent and gave distinctive markings on the suit to compare. His house had recently been burgled and robbed of his many possessions. I approached the other man with sensitivity, who like myself was clearly a country man, considering his accent alone. On producing his ID, I discovered he was known to Gardaí, so on ordering a search of his B&B, we found an abundance of jewellery and other stolen items from various robberies”.
Gearoid, have you any retirement plans ahead?
They joke that I'll take up new residence at Beaufort Golf Club, where I've thoroughly enjoyed being Captain/President/Treasurer over the past 12 years. The community has always been important to me and the Gardaí are a huge part of the community.
I'm not sure what exactly is on the cards next Marie, but it will definitely be Australia for myself & Sarah as we've never been, to visit my son Matthew, an engineer in Perth, and my daughter Niamh who is a teacher in Vietnam.
Before I left I asked Gearoid if he'd enjoyed his going away party at Reidy's over the weekend. “Wait a minute and I'll show you a video that was featured on the night of Marty Morrissey” who had no bones about recalling Gearoid's hurling fame, at an All Ireland Vocational Semi-Final, in 1982 against Tipperary, where he was reprimanded and sent off for foul play. “It was a great night Marie. The Sheahan family put in such effort to make it a most memorable night and I was surrounded by colleagues, family and friends. What more could I ask for?”
Carols by Candlelight
St. Mary’s Cathedral, will be filled with music and glowing candles, as choirs from all over Killarney Parish gather for a community of voices together to celebrate Christmas […]
St. Mary’s Cathedral, will be filled with music and glowing candles, as choirs from all over Killarney Parish gather for a community of voices together to celebrate Christmas 2023, December17, at 7.00pm. Admission is free.
Ten Choirs from Killarney parish will join together and sing some of the world’s most beloved Christmas carols.
The carol service is directed by accomplished Musician and Choral Director, Paula Gleeson. Originally from Cork, her family have been involved in all aspects of choral and church music for 50 years.
“This is the best experience as director, working with Fr. Kieran O’Brien, and St. Mary’s Cathedral Choir, I get to work with so many talented people in Killarney. The commitment of Teachers, Principals, and the hundreds of students from the Primary and Secondary Schools is inspiring. The generosity of our sponsors, who were so willing to contribute has helped to make this night a reality. We are all so truly grateful,” she said.
St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish Choir, organist Anita Lakner
Holy Cross Mercy School Choir
St. Oliver’s Primary School Choir
St. Brigid’s Secondary School Choir
St. Brendan’s Secondary School Choir
Killarney Community College School Choir
Lissivigeen National School Choir
Gaelscoil Faithleann School Choir
Presentation Monastery School Choir
The same but different – A tribute to three great Irish musicians
Driving home from work last Friday, tributes for Shane McGowan were pouring out across the radio stations and while listening in, I got a strong sense of déjà vu.
It was only a few months earlier that we got the sad news that the talented Aslan front man Christy Dingham had passed away, and a short few weeks after that – Sinéad O’Connor. The loss of three iconic Irish musicians that left music fans across the country reeling.
When I think about each artist individually, their personalities couldn’t be more different. Yet, for days after the passing of the Pogues frontman, I found myself wondering why I was so drawn to all three.
And then, over the weekend I stumbled across a completely unrelated article which led with a headline:
“In a year dominated by artificial intelligence, deepfakes, and disingenuity, “authentic” has somehow emerged as Merriam-Webster’s word for 2023.”
And there was my answer. The one characteristic that embodied all three of these great Irish musicians.
It was my mother that first introduced me to Aslan’s music. She grew up during their peak and loved all sorts of rock music. I regularly watch their Vicar Street performances back on YouTube and still get mesmerised by Christy’s intense stage presence. Using elaborate hand gestures to evoke a greater meaning behind the words, he always looked like he was away in his own world. Off stage, and particularly later in his career, I admired him for his honesty when talking about his struggles with addiction and mental health. He was talking openly about these issues long before it was the norm.
Sinéad O’Connor was another original soul who, because of her talent, was catapulted into a music industry consumed by artificiality; she was almost too pure for it all. I always admired her unwavering commitment to her beliefs. Her authenticity was evident in every aspect of her artistry. The way she unapologetically embraced her shaved head and boy-ish style, she challenged conventional opinions around beauty. Her music reflected her personal struggles and she never shied away from addressing issues of social injustice, religion, and gender equality. Her stances often drew criticism and controversy, but she always remained true to herself.
Shane MacGowan will always be remembered for his unfiltered nature, and while the lyrics of many songs were dark and gritty, there was also an element of empathy and compassion in what he wrote. Like Christy, he too struggled with addiction and mental health issues throughout his career. While his demons sometimes spilled over into the public eye, his honesty and vulnerability just endeared him even more to us Irish.
So isn’t it apt in a year we lost three great musicians, the word of 2023 happens to be the one undeniable trait that they all shared. Thank you Christy, Sinead and Shane for showing us that authenticity is not just about being different to everyone else; but also about possessing the courage to challenge the established, to question the norms, and to keep going, even when the going gets tough.
Carols by Candlelight
St. Mary’s Cathedral, will be filled with music and glowing candles, as choirs from all over Killarney Parish...
The same but different – A tribute to three great Irish musicians
Driving home from work last Friday, tributes for Shane McGowan were pouring out across the radio stations and while listening...
Full employment, minimum wage set to rise, but locals still feeling the pinch!
Warning: This article does not come with the usual bells, whistles and Christmas cheer you would expect at this time...
Dermot McCarthy closes art gallery after 25 years
One of Killarney’s most talented artists Dermot McCarthy is calling time on his accomplished career. Born in Killorglin, they may...
Killarney and District Motor Club members honoured by Motorsport Ireland
By Cormac Casey Several members of Killarney and District Motor Club were honoured at the Motorsport Ireland awards lunch in...
If Big Sam hates the present so much, why should we entrust him with Ireland’s future?
by Adam Moynihan Yesterday, by complete coincidence, I consumed two pieces of media that focussed on brash, larger than life...
Fossa on cusp of history as club from ‘nine square miles’ eyes senior status
Kerry IFC Final Fossa v Milltown/Castlemaine Sunday 2.30pm Austin Stack Park Never before in the history of Kerry football has...
Home double header for St Paul’s and Scotts Lakers
The St Paul’s women’s and men’s teams are both in National League action this Saturday at Killarney Sports and Leisure...
Classy new Kerry GAA home jersey unveiled to rave reviews
by Adam Moynihan The new Kerry GAA home jersey for 2024 was unveiled on Thursday morning with kit makers O’Neills...
County Final Preview: Mid Kerry marauders out for revenge against star-studded squad from the East
by Adam Moynihan Kerry SFC Final East Kerry v Mid Kerry Sunday at 3.30pm Austin Stack Park (Live on TG4)...