After 35 years of service in the force, with spells in Kildare town, Blessington and Portlaoise, Sgt John Flaherty bid farewell to his colleagues and the local community as he retired from An Garda Síochána last week.
The Leinster Leader dropped by on Thursday, October 19 for his last day at the Kildare Town station.
“I always appreciated all the great support I got from the community. I enjoyed every day of it. I found the people in Kildare to be very nice to deal with, and there is a really great community spirit in the town,” he said.
When the young man from Bellharbour, County Clare, first arrived at Naas Garda Station back in February 1983, it was a very different time.
Four days earlier, Shergar had been kidnapped, and John was drafted in to help secure the stud along with a number of other gardai in the aftermath of the disappearance of the world famous racehorse.
He recalls how, when he started out on the job, most of the work comprised of manning checkpoints and checking dog licences in the early eighties.
“I came to Kildare (town) in May 1983, then I went to Portlaoise in August 1985, in 1991 I went to Durrow and then to Blessington in 1993 where I spent six very nice years there,” he said.
“Then I came back to Kildare as Sergeant in Charge in 1999.”
When John first came to Kildare, the Bishopsland housing estate was just being built.
“There has been a lot of changes over the years. There has been a lot of development such as the Kildare Village. We had a lot of social issues over the years and public order issues, but that has gone over the years. It's a lovely town .”
Apart from his interaction with the local community, John has also come into contact with over a hundred colleagues, who came and went over the years.
It's clear he is held in very high esteem by his fellow gardai.
He lives in Newbridge with his wife Ann, and they have two children, Shane and Orlagh.
John is looking forward to his retirement and hopes to travel and see a bit more of the world.
“I have done over 35 years. It was 35 very happy years. I was always very fortunate in the stations I was in and I enjoyed every bit of it,” he said.
On Friday, October 20 family, friends and colleagues gathered at the Kildare House Hotel for a special send off for the popular Sergeant.