THE GARDA inspector who went viral as he danced his way out of his office last week officially leaves the force today — 99 years after his grandfather became one of the Ireland’s first gardaí.
Although Pat Meany’s last day in Bandon garda station was last week, his career of just over 40 years officially ends today.
Unable to mark his retirement in the traditional way, he says the video shot by a colleague last week ended up being an unofficial goodbye.
But he never expected the video to get so much attention — expecting it would just be shared with colleagues in Bandon garda district. Half an hour later, his phone was on fire with messages from people who had seen the video. It led to messages from colleagues who he had not seen since he left the Garda College in Templemore four decades ago.
“My grandfather Martin Donovan became one of the first members of the gardaí, and died at 48 years old as a detective sergeant.
"My father Michael was a detective in Cork city. I would 100% recommend the guards as a career.”
However, he reflects there were tough times, including attending scenes of many fatalities, including murder, road accidents, sudden deaths and suicides.
He added: “These scenes would live with you for some time, particularly cot deaths. When I joined the gardaí, I did not expect to come across as much tragedy and hardship as I came across in the course of my career.”
His retirement also brings an end to five years on the executive of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors. In that role he was very involved in the developing of a new garda uniform which is expected to be introduced later this year.
“I will not be there to see it rolled out — I would have liked to see that and to have worn the new uniform.” Also occupying his time in the past year on the executive were Covid-related concerns of members of the association.
There have been many other changes since he joined the force, including the evolution of technology and equipment.
“When I joined first, there were operators doing the phone service, there was a telex machine in the corner, we had old typewriters and most things were handwritten.”
He also recalls that batons used by the gardaí were made of wood, while special court sittings were held in garda stations, with a Peace Commissioner presiding.
“A lot of policing was based on local knowledge.”
He notes that in the early part of his career, rural homes were being regularly targeted by city-based criminals, with less rural burglaries occurring today.
“A lot of that can be attributed to garda checkpoints and more CCTV systems, but it is also easier now to make money out of drugs now than out of burglaries.”
Social media is a new challenge to gardaí on the job, he says.
“It has become a huge thing. You can be filmed at anything now. It does not make life any easier.”
He says he has experienced at first hand being filmed by members of the public while doing his job.
A big sports fan, Pat laments that sport within An Garda Siochana has lapsed. He remembers playing GAA, soccer and rugby earlier in his career, which he believes helped build morale, positivity and camaraderie between colleagues.
Pat is a trained community first responder with the National Ambulance Service and says he will still be available to assist during the on-going pandemic.