As the first member of Athy Garda Station to receive a Garda Merit Award Detective Kevin Brady has completed a unique treble of firsts. The award presented to him last week by the Garda Commissioner was in recognition of his outstanding work as a member of the Garda Siochana. The citation which was read at the award presentation at Templemore Training College referred to Kevin’s involvement in almost all major criminal investigations in the Carlow/Kildare division over the last twenty years. In the intervening period crime figures for Athy have increased from an average of 75 a year to almost 300. Despite the resulting heavy workload Detective Brady has consistently succeeded in maintaining a high level of crime detection in the Athy area.
A native of Ballyjamesduff in County Cavan Kevin has lived in Athy since 1971 having spent a few years as a Garda in both Carlow and Ballon. When he first arrived to take up duty in the Garda Station then located in Duke Street, it was to replace the recently retired Tom Meaney. Tom was one of the great characters of the Garda Siochana who with his impish smile enlivened many a local gathering. The Station’s strength then consisted of two Sergeants, Maurice Shortt and Hugh Donnelly with six Gardai, including the newly arrived Ballyjamesduff youngster. His colleagues were Joe Carty, Tom Friel, John Murphy and Owen Doyle, all retired in recent years and still living in Athy and Mick Cullinane, now retired in Rathcoole. This of course means that Kevin is the longest serving member of the Garda Siochana in Athy.
In the first year of the 1970’s the Athy Station party did not have a squad car at it’s disposal. Members were still in receipt of bicycle allowances and each were expected to possess a sturdy Raleigh Bike to get them around their area. In those pre-Conroy days the Gardai still worked long and exhausting hours with only two days off each month. Even then the days off had to be taken at the discretion of the Station Sergeant and “subject to the exigencies of the job”. Barrack orderly duty was still the norm, requiring Gardai young and old alike to spend twenty-four hours on station duty sleeping in the day room during the night. These days are now long gone and now Gardai work eight hour shifts with eight days off in each month. The bicycle allowance has disappeared as happily the present day force is well and truly motorised.
In the intervening twenty-six years Kevin has worked out of three Garda Stations in Athy. The first was at Duke Street where Starsave is located, later a temporary Station was opened at the Model School Building on the Dublin Road before the final move into the newly built Garda Station adjoining the Dominican’s Monastery. During the same period his wife Margaret, formerly Margaret Reid of Bennekerry, Co. Carlow whom he married in 1971 has also moved house on three occasions from Grangemellon to McDonnell Drive, before settling in the newly developed Avondale Drive where Kevin and Margaret still live.
Promoted to the rank of Detective in 1977 Kevin has been involved in an extraordinary range of criminal investigations in the intervening twenty years. Several murders, armed robberies, many burglaries and assaults have all come under his exacting scrutiny, much to the discomfort of the criminals involved, most of whom have had reason to acknowledge Kevin’s forensic and investigative abilities.
But it is not only in the realm of law or more precisely law breaking that Kevin has shone. As a somewhat slimmer man he played football for the Virginia Blues which he refers to as a Gaelic football team in County Cavan of indefinable talents. A spell on the County Cavan minor team confirms Kevin’s above average ability to catch and kick with skill, if not a whole hearted willingness to rough it with Cavan’s best. It is not only on the Gaelic Football pitch however that his sporting talents were to the fore. Kevin has been a golfer of indeterminate talent for some years. He claims not always to have the time to practice his game and to bring it to the level of perfection as performed by his near neighbour Peadar Doogue. However, he can claim the honour of achieving the first “hole in one” on the extended eighteen hole golf course at Geraldine.
As a Committee Member of Athy Golf Club for approximately ten years Kevin has served as the Club’s Social Secretary and also as organiser of the very successful Open Week held each year on the Geraldine Course. His hard work was given due recognition by the Club Members when he was appointed Club Captain for 1997. The honour is one which has never before been accorded to a member of the Garda Siochana. In fact, as far as I can ascertain, Kevin is also the first Cavan man to hold that position in the Athy Club, a double first of which he can be justifiably proud.
I have often met with Kevin the Detective in the course of “my day job”. Always good humoured he is an efficient law officer who has earned the respect of all those who have had dealings with him. The nature of his work has changed enormously over the last twenty years. Today there is a far greater level of violent crime than existed in Ireland a generation ago. Investigating and solving such crimes requires a high level of dedication and committment with an astute application of shrewdness born of experience. As the first and as yet the only detective assigned to Athy, Kevin Brady has had a tremendously successful career in solving crime. The first detective in the town, the first Garda Captain of Athy Golf Club and now the first Garda Merit Award winner, his is a remarkable triumph of firsts for the Ballyjamesduff man. Percy French’s call “to come back to Ballyjamesduff” must go unanswered for Kevin whose roots are now well and truly transplanted in Athy, even if his football allegiance is still to the “Brady Bunch” of Cavan!