Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Garda Commissioner Patrick Carroll / Johnny Mulhall

Solicitors of a certain age were once familiar with the Garda Siochana Guide, a solid reference book of law relating to practice in the District Courts. It was first published in 1934 and ran to several additions but in more recent years it has been overtaken and replaced by a wide variety of legal textbooks dealing with every aspect of District Court practice. The Guide was written by a member of the Garda Siochana who had attended secondary school in Athy’s Christian Brothers. Patrick Carroll, a native of Ballyrider, a small townland between Vicarstown and Stradbally, joined the army as a cadet in 1922 and was literally headhunted by Garda headquarters to join the Gardai which he did on 15th June 1923. It was quite a common practice for Garda headquarters in the early days of the formation of the new police force to seek out suitable candidates and invite them to join the force. The early 1920s were extraordinary times and yet Patrick Carroll’s promotion to the rank of Garda Superintendent at the age of 21 was an unusual, if not a unique promotion. Appointed District Officer in Waterford he served there until he transferred to Garda headquarters as a Police Instructor in August 1925. He later attended the Kings Inns and qualified as a barrister in 1932. Four years later he was promoted to the rank of Chief Superintendent and in 1937 he was put in control of the traffic branch in Garda headquarters. In that role he was responsible for the various regulations prepared for the Minister under the 1933 Road Traffic Act. During the years of World War II he was head of the Special Branch in charge of crime and oversaw the Garda surveillance of I.R.A. members and German spies who were actively cooperating with each other at that time. In 1959 the man from the Laois/Kildare border area was appointed Divisional Officer in charge of Dublin/Wicklow division. Two years later he returned to Garda Headquarters as Deputy Commissioner and in January 1967 he reached the highest rank in the Garda on being appointed the Garda Commissioner by the government. During his Garda career Patrick Carroll was actively involved with the Irish Amateur Boxing Association and became Vice President of that body. In recent years another past pupil of Athy Christian Brothers, Dominic O’Rourke, headed up the Irish Amateur Boxing Association as President. Patrick Carroll was also secretary of the Irish Olympic Council and during his period of office attended Olympic Games in London, Helsinki, Rome and Tokyo. When interviewed soon after his appointment as Garda Commissioner Patrick Carroll acknowledged the important benefits of the education he received in Athy Christian Brothers School from 1916-1920. He cycled to school every morning a distance of approximately 8 miles, meeting his school pals Eddie Whelan and Michael Keenan at Ballkilcava Cross. School teachers he recalled in Athy in the years following the 1916 Rising included a Mr. Frayne and Brother Berchmans O’Neill, the Christian Brother Superior. Many successful and not so successful men passed through the classrooms of Athy Christian Brothers School. The more successful included at least two national newspaper editors, the former head of RTE News, the present head of a government department as well as the former Chief Executive of a semi state organisation and at least three county managers. I was not aware until this week that a Garda Commissioner could be added to that illustrious list of former pupils of Athy’s Christian Brothers School. A former Christian Brother pupil with whom I shared the same classrooms for several years passed away recently in England. The remains of Johnny Mulhall were brought back to Athy to be buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery in accordance with his wishes. Regretfully his funeral took place before I was aware of his death and so missed the opportunity of paying my respects to a former school mate. Another former Christian Brothers student still happy with us recently celebrated his 88th birthday. Ed Conway is the happy celebrant whom I have often chided for leaving Athy Gaelic Football Club to join our neighbour and great football rivals, Castlemitchell, during the best of his footballing years. With his departure Athy lost a very good footballer who later togged out with the Kildare senior county team before he took the emigrant boat to England. Congratulations are also due to another former C.B.S. pupil, Army Officer Cathal English who at 42 years of age has recently been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Athy Christian Brothers School holds memories, some good, some bad for those of us who made the daily trip through St. John’s Lane. The education, it provided, in what was then a small secondary school can be measured in the achievements of its past pupils.

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