Law enforcement’s loss will be the GAA’s gain with the retirement of popular Monasterevin garda Billy Delaney.
The Stradbally man, 52, is departing from the force after 30 years of service. The son of the late, great Laois footballer Bill Delaney will still be a regular figure around town, however, as he gets the Monasterevin GFC u21 team set for the coming season.
Garda Delaney joined the gardai in 1982, following in the footsteps of his brother Gerry and first cousin Michael. The family connection “was as good a reason as any to join, and it was seen as a secure job at the time,” said Billy.
The young garda’s first posting upon passing out from Templemore was to Harcourt Terrace in Dublin. Moving from quiet Stradbally to the city centre was a big change. Billy also found himself in the thick of the political action of the day as gardai from that station were posted around Dail Eireann.
After three years he moved to Balbriggan, to be closer to Delvin, where wife Maeve was nursing at the time. The family – Timahoe native Maeve and their children Aisling, now 28, Rhona, 26, and 23-year-old twins Conor and Cormac – returned home to Stradbally in 1990 when Billy was stationed in Kildare town.
It was Billy’s move to Monasterevin garda station in 2000 that prompted his involvement in the local Monasterevin GFC club. He has coached the u12, u16 and Intermediate teams and this week takes up the reins of the u21 side.
He has seen huge changes occur in the last 12 years in Monasterevin, a period which coincided with a boomtime explosion of new housing estates in the town. “Twelve and a half years ago, you would know everyone in the town,” said Billy. “The opening of the bypass [in 2004] was a huge change. Previously, the biggest problem in the town was dealing with traffic. At that time it was a small little town where everyone knew everyone else. Now a lot of people are just sleeping in their houses and commuting to Dublin.
“What will I miss most? It’s a cliché but the people around the town. I’ll miss the friends I’ve made here,” he said. “That said, if Monasterevin are playing next Wednesday or Thursday, I’ll be back.
“There is very good camaraderie among the gardai here as well, and I will always keep in contact with them. I’ve made too many good friends here to stay away.”
Billy has no concrete plans for retirement yet but is threatening to take up golf and, of course, football will keep him active in both the Monasterevin and Stradbally communities for some time yet.
“I’d like to thank the locals here for the great respect and kindness they have shown me over the years,” he said.
Sgt Niall Lynch of Monasterevin Garda Station paid tribute to his retiring friend, calling him a garda with “a lot of common sense and cop on”. “He was a marvellous colleague to work with, with a lot of qualities not seen too often any more,” said Sgt Lynch.
Garda Billy Delaney’s formal retirement function takes place at the Hazel Hotel in Monasterevin on Friday, October 26, at 9pm. Tickets at E20 are available at Kildare or Monasterevin Garda Stations.
- Laura Coates