The RIC in Carlow

In 1825, a bill was introduced to reorganise the police system in Ireland. Its purpose was to create one force for the country – outside of Dublin, and replace the Peace Preservation Force established in 1814.  In 1836, on the 20th of May the bill became law and was known as the Constabulary (Ireland) Act, 1936.1

The strength of the constabulary was fixed by the Act at 10,500 men. However this strength was subject to change. In the 1850’s it was almost 13,000 and in the early 1880’s it reached an all time high of 14,000. It was spread over the country in about 1500 police barracks and established on semi military lines. The strength of Dublin Metropolitan Police stood at around 1,200 being divide into seven districts.  Its first recruit, back in 1837 was Constable Delaney, a native of Durrow, Co. Laois. 2

The first police barracks in Carlow town was in Burrin St, opened in 1840 and formerly the Yellow Line Inn. At Forge Cross, Graiguecullen, another police barracks was situated, serving Graiguecullen and the adjoining area. The police moved to the barracks in Tullow St., now occupied by the Gardaí, in 1870. County Carlow was divided into two police districts, that of Carlow and Muinebeag, Carlow town being county and district headquarters combined. 3

In the period 1903-05 the County Inspector in Carlow town was D.I. Samuel Carter who resided at Otterholt, Kilkenny Road and also had residence at the Monavea, Cettyyard, Co. Laois. At the same time the District Inspector in Muinebeag was D.I. Roberts, later Assistant Inspector-General of the R.U.C, in Belfast. 4

The last Head Constable was H.C. James McGlinchey. The Head Constable was actually the member in charge of the Barracks or station. Other Head Constables to serve in Carlow town in the early 1900’s were Head Constables John Reynolds and John McCoy.

A new contingent of the newly formed Gardaí arrived in Carlow in September 1922. The breakdown was three Sergeants and twenty-eight Gardaí. Those were the men charged with policing the county into the future. They were housed in an old R.I.C. Barracks in mid Tullow Street until arrangements were made to deploy them to other stations in the county.The military police force of the fledgling free state Army took over the Barracks on the withdrawal of the R.I.C and they now in turn control to the new presence as did also the judge of the Republican Court, Mr. John Foley. The members of the new force was very well received by the people of Carlow and the force were heartened by their welcome.6

On the day of their arrival the Republican Peace Commissioners, Nicholas Roche, Tullow Street and Patrick Donohue of Dublin Street also tendered their resignations. Everybody respected the neutrality of the Gardaí. A tribute must be paid to all those men who served all of us with great charity, common sense, and impartiality down through the years and still do to this day.  7

The last of the R.I.C departed from Carlow in February 1922 and on the 28th September, 1922, the first members of the Garda Force, then known as the Civic Guards arrived in Carlow. This force consisted of a party of three Sergeants and twenty eight Gardaí. The Sergeants were Sergeants Martin Walsh, John McGloin and Patrick Duffy. The Gardaí were:  Gardaí Denis Flynn, Peter Flanagan, John Rodgers, Martin Walsh, Martin Fennessy, and others whose names are unknown. 8

Sergeants in charge in Carlow town. 

1925 Sgt. Phelan

1928 Sgt. Carney

1932 Sgt. M Farrell

1937 Sgt. J Hudson

Ex R.I.C members who enlisted in the Gardaí. 

627- O’Farrell, John

884- Doyle, John

1988- Murphy, Patrick

This piece has been researched and written by Akhimoni Uddin, Transition Year Student, St. Leo’s College, Carlow as part of her work experience in Carlow County Museum. The Transition Year ‘Be Involved Volunteer Programme’ is organised by the Carlow Volunteer Centre.


1 – ‘The Police in Carlow’, Jim Westman, Carloviana 1978/79 p.7

2 – ‘The Police in Carlow’, Jim Westman, Carloviana 1978/79 p.7

3 – ‘The Police in Carlow’, Jim Westman, Carloviana 1978/79 p.7

4 – ‘The Police in Carlow’, Jim Westman, Carloviana 1978/79 p.7

5 – ‘A New Law and Order We Bring to You’, Des Nolan, Carloviana 1998 p.62-64

6 – ‘A New Law and Order We Bring to You’, Des Nolan, Carloviana 1998 p.62-64

7 – ‘A New Law and Order We Bring to You’, Des Nolan, Carloviana 1998 p.62-64

8 – ‘The Police in Carlow’, Jim Westman, Carloviana 1978/79 p.7

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