20 Jan 2022

Kildare garda stations to mark 100 years since founding of the 'Civic Guard' in 1922

Pioneering guards to be remembered

Kildare garda stations to mark 100 years since founding of the 'Civic Guard' in 1922

Sgt James Finn of Clane Station, one of Kildare's first 'gardaí'

Several local garda stations across County Kildare are making plans to celebrate the centenary of the founding of An Garda Síochána next year.

The organisation was officially founded on February 22, 1922, and was initially known as the Civic Guard.

It took over policing duties from both the Royal Irish Constabulary and its parallel organisation, the Irish Republican Police after the War of Independence.

The son of one of the first gardaí in Clane Garda Station contacted the Leader last week to explain his links.

Maurice Lee, who is a retired Detective Sergeant who was based at Naas Garda Station, is the son of Sergeant Maurice Lee who served in the 1920s.

Maurice, who is aged 80, said: “I am a native of Clane. My father, also Maurice Lee was Garda number 239.

“He was part of the the first station party of Civic Guards in Clane in September 1922.”

The retired officer said he has written an account of his father’s role in the Civic Guards for a centenary project being planned by the Naas Branch of Garda Síochána Retired Members Association (GSRMA).

The GSRMA is working with experts to record the oral and lived experiences of gardaí and their families.

The group is also collating written historical material and records in a chronological way.

The Kildare Observer newspaper of December 2, 1922, reported that a Civic Guard station had opened in Clane and that Sergeant James Finn was in charge of four guards.

According to the Clane Local History Group’s publication Coiseanna, Finn was born in Co Armagh in 1896.

He later settled in Clane where he married Anne Ennis, the daughter of local farmer and grocer Simon Ennis.

According to local historian John Noonan, the couple lived in Mainham and had three children — a boy Seán and two daughters Catherine and Molly.

Sadly, Finn died of tuberculosis in 1932 while wife Ann died of the same condition three years later. The couple are buried in Mainham Cemetery today.

Meanwhile Garda management in Dublin to purchase and distribute commemorative coins and medals to serving and retired members of the force during 2022.

Thousands of gardaí and civilian staff will receive a medal or coin as well as retired personnel.

The idea of a commemorative medal raised in the Dáil by Independent TD for Kildare Cathal Berry and suggested by the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI).

Similar medals were handed out to members of the Defence Forces to mark the 1916 centenary.

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