Garda Síochána Historical Society
Irish Police History

Deputy Commissioner Patrick Walsh

Deputy Commissioner Patrick Walsh
Patrick Walsh (1871-1857), was born in County Monaghan. He joined the Royal Irish Constabulary in 1890, Sergeant in 1898, Head Constable in 1907 and promoted to District Inspector in 1911. He served in County Kerry, Cork East Riding, Wicklow, and in Swanlinbar, Castlepollard, Carrick-on-Shannon, Letterkenny. In 1922, on the formation of the police organising committee, was recommended to Kevin O'Higgins by Dr. Joseph Patrick McGinley, Dispensary Officer, Letterkenny, County Donegal, as a dependable man who, while remaining faithful to his police duties, made no secret of his nationalist sympathies.

On 7 February 1922 District-Inspector Walsh was at his desk when he received by personal letter from Michael Collins an invitation to join the committee. With Sergeant McCormick, Letterkenny, he left at once for Dublin and was present at the meeting in the Gresham Hotel, Room 85, at 7 pm on 9 February. Worked closely with M.J. Staines in the organisation of the Civic Guard, and was appointed Deputy-Commissioner by Staines.

On 16 May when Staines felt in honour bound to resign in consequence of the challenge to his leadership in the Kildare affair, Patrick Walsh also stepped down in loyalty to the Commissioner. His resignation was considered by the government and turned down on 22 August the day of the ambush at Bealnablath (in which Michael Collins was shot). In the new crisis the decision affecting the future of Deputy Commissioner Walsh was overlooked. On 21 August Collins resting in the Imperial Hotel, Cork, had written to W.T. Cosgrave: "It would be a big thing to get Civic Guards. Civil administration urgent everywhere in the South". With this last imperative signal from Collins on his desk, written on the eve of the death of the Commander-in-Chief, Cosgrave acted at once to put the affairs of the Civic Guard in order.

Deputy Commissioner Eamon CooganEamonn Coogan, a civil servant in Cosgrave's Department of Local Government, was appointed to the post of Deputy-Commissioner vacated by Walsh. Now designated an advisor in the Commissioner's Office. Walsh was Eoin O'Duffy's right-hand man when the Garda Síochána (Temporary Provisions) Act was passed by Dáil Éireann in August 1923.

On 24 August, O'Duffy wrote to the Minister for Home Affairs, Kevin O'Higgins, recommending re-appointment of Walsh, as Assistant Commissioner. "It is the pity of the world he ever resigned the position of Deputy Commissioner....Since I became Commissioner, he was indispensable to me. His sound judgement and hard common-sense stood the test every time. The Garda Síochána has turned the corner, and no small share of the credit goes to Mr. Walsh".

The appointment of Assistant-Commissioner Walsh was announced in Iris Oifigiuil, 4 September 1923. By an accident of history a former officer of the old Constabulary became the first gazetted officer of the Garda Síochána, to give symbolic continuity to the evolution of police in Ireland.

The successful establishment of the Garda Síochána was celebrated on 14 January 1924 when President W. Cosgrave and members of the Executive Council made a formal visit to Garda Headquarters. The first Commissioner now Senator Staines was among the guest of Assistant-Commissioner Walsh to propose the toast to the guests. In doing so, he was glad to extend a special welcome to his former chief. Walsh retired in 1936 with unbroken service of 46 years in the R.I.C. and Garda Síochána.

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