A well-known Mullingar-based garda is the co-author of a new book on the historic links between An Garda Siochána and the GAA, which is published this week.
Detective Sergeant Brian Willoughby, a native of Lismore, Co. Waterford but stationed for years in Mullingar, joined forces with a retired garda of the same rank, Cork native Noel Hynes, to produce ‘Guardians of the GAA: a compilation of Garda GAA players’.
The project began many years ago as Noel’s brainchild, with Brian later coming on board to assist with the research. It became a labour of love for both, and in the last two years the project built up a head of steam towards publication.
Although not claiming to be, by any means, an official record of the involvement of An Garda Siochána personnel in Gaelic games of all codes, ‘Guardians of the GAA’ is expected to be the first volume in what will be an ongoing celebration of the Gardaí’s unique relationship with our national games.
Fact collection goes on apace, but in this volume, there are enough facts, figures and stories to whet the appetite of any GAA fanatic.
The history of the Gardaí’s GAA story is traced from the beginning, and the Force’s involvement in various competitions, as well as the inter-county exploits of its members (male and female) over the years, are navigated. Note that the 1927 All-Ireland SHC-winning Dublin panel featured 14 Gardaí (including nine starters).
An informative ‘Did You Know?’ chapter, for example, features interesting facts like which brothers, fathers and sons served both in the Gardaí and played inter-county GAA. The book contains over 700 team and individual photos, and towards the back, there is a working database of between 1,600 to 1,700 Gardaí who have played inter-county Gaelic games over the years – a list which will surely be added to in the future.
‘Guardians of the GAA’ launches at well-known Dublin venue Copper Face Jacks this Friday night, May 18 at 7pm, with serving gardaí and decorated All Stars Aidan O’Mahony (Kerry, football) and Eddie Brennan (Kilkenny, football) doing the honours.