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Marie meets: Sergeant Gearoid Keating

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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?”

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Two Mile School “Says Yes to Japanese”

The pupils and staff of Two Mile Community National School were delighted to welcome Mr Norio Maruyama,  the Japanese Ambassador to Ireland on Tuesday. The Ambassador was at the school […]

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The pupils and staff of Two Mile Community National School were delighted to welcome Mr Norio Maruyama,  the Japanese Ambassador to Ireland on Tuesday.

The Ambassador was at the school to promote the teaching of the Japanese language and culture through the ‘Say Yes to Languages’ programme.

“The pupils in Two Mile were very interested to listen to stories about Japan and to learn about the links between our two countries,” said school principal Catherine Barry.
“As a multi-denominational school, we are very open to different languages and cultures and we look forward to working with the Japanese embassy from next September.”
Two Mile Community National School is the only multi-denominational school in the Killarney school district.

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 Photographer Anastasiia goes Out and About for Killarney Advertiser.

The Killarney Advertiser is pleased to announce that Anastasiia Garbera has joined the team. Anastasiia is a photographer from Ukraine. She has been living in Killarney for nearly two years […]

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The Killarney Advertiser is pleased to announce that Anastasiia Garbera has joined the team.

Anastasiia is a photographer from Ukraine. She has been living in Killarney for nearly two years and is trying to establish a freelance photography business.
“I love my job. I’ve been shooting for 11 years. I adore photography and connect my life with it. The best thing for me is to show girls and families, brides how beautiful they are. I think it’s my main mission.No need to be a model. We are all beautiful and special. You just need to build more self-confidence. And be sure, I will help you with it.”
Keep an eye out for Anastasiia as she goes Out and About for The Killarney Advertiser.
If you are organising an event and need a photographer email info@killarneyadvertiser.ie for more details.

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