Garda Síochána Historical Society
Irish Police History

Scott Medal Design

The design of the Scott Medal

Unlike most other countries the Republic of Ireland has no national honors system. Awards, orders of merit or chivalry were considered to be "Monarchist" or "Imperialist". General Owen O'Duffy, the first Garda Commissioner, did not seek the permission of the Government or the Minister. The "Scott Medal for Valor" is not a State award, it is entirely the gift of the Commissioner. The only involvement by the Irish Government is the formal presentation of the medal by the Minister for Justice.

The design of the "Scott Medal for Valor", a Celtic Cross incorporating elements of the Garda Crest, was the work of a woodwork teacher in the old Blackrock (Co. Dublin) Technical School, Irish language enthusiast - John F. Maxwell of 4 Derrynane Parade, N.C.R., Dublin, who also designed the Crest for the Garda Síochána in 1922.

The original dies, and the first 18 carat gold medal were made by the firm of Dieges and Clust of New York and were sent to O'Duffy under a covering letter from Scott on January 8, 1924. Also enclosed was a one thousand dollar, six percent gold bond of the Detroit Edison Company, maturing in 1940, the interest from which was to pay for one gold medal per annum in perpetuity. Later medals were struck by a Dublin firm, Johnson's the Jewellers, of Grafton Street, Dublin, who are no longer in business.

It was Scott's intention that one medal should be awarded annually to the member of the Garda Síochána who had "specially distinguished himself for valour in the performance of duty". In 1942, the condition was amended, and medals are nowawarded for "most exceptional bravery and heroism involving the risk of life in the execution pf duty.

The silver and bronze medals were first issued in 1925. Walter Scott also donated extra funds to affray costs of these medals. Other than the colour the medal is the same for all three classes -

  • Gold - First class
  • Silver - Second class
  • Bronze - Third class

The medal is in the form of a Celtic cross, 44mm in diameter, was designed with a blue and yellow ribbon but that was changed to a 34mm wide ribbon in the form of the Nation's tricolour with equal stripes of green, white and orange. The early ribbons were of silk, but were changed to a more durable material in the 1940's. There are no distinguishing features between the different classes when the ribbon bar is worn alone on the uniform. The rank, name and number of the recipient is engraved on a bar just above the ribbon.

There are five panels on the face. The inscription on the top panel are the words the "The Scott Medal" and on the lower panel "For Valor" (note the spelling in American English signifying the American connection with the award). On the right and left are the eagle and shield of the U.S.A. and the harp and sunburst of Ireland, respectively. The centrepiece is from the Garda Crest with the intertwined letters G.S. - the initials of the words, Garda Síochána.

The reverse of the medal carries the inscription, Gharda Siothchana na h-Éireann. The four outside panels are the arms of the four provinces of Ireland, Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connaught. The centre section of the back was to be inscribed the name of the Guard to whom the medal was awarded. However, this was changed to include the arms of New York City with the letters "NY" inscribed underneath, again signifying the New York connection with Walter Scott who was a honorary Commissioner of New York's Police Department. Earlier gold and silver medals were hallmarked under the letters NY.

Mr. Scott's funds have long outlived their usefulness but the Commissioner still retains a few pounds in the original account for historical continuity. The Commissioner now purchases the medals from a special contingency fund.

The illustrations of the Scott Medal are from Iris an Ghárda dated August 6, 1923.
The Gold Scott medal was issued to retired Detective Garda James McCarthy of Anglesea Street for disarming armed criminals.

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