Six Cork gardaí who died in line of duty

An Garda Síochána was founded 100 years ago today, on February 22, 1922. In that time, six Cork city-based gardaí have given their lives in the line of duty, and PAT POLAND remembers them
Six Cork gardaí who died in line of duty

Garda Sgt James Fitzsimons, who died in 1926


James Fitzsimons was born on May 23, 1903 in Strangford, Co. Down. An electrician by trade, he served in the 3rd Northern Division of the Irish Volunteers for 18 months before joining An Garda Síochána on November 23, 1922.

A single man, he was stationed at St Luke’s, Cork city.

On November 14, 1926, concerted attacks were carried out on 12 garda stations nationwide. One of those was St Luke’s, where a group of armed men attacked the station and tried to gain entry by forcing the front door. Sergeant Fitzsimons, in an attempt to barricade the front door, was confronted by the raiders in the hallway and shot dead.

The same evening, Garda Hugh Ward was killed in the Garda Station at Hollyford, Co. Tipperary.

The tragic incident in Cork evokes a certain resonance with the writer. My late father, Det Garda Matt Poland, was due to report at St Luke’s on the night of the attack when, by a quirk of fate, some hours before he was directed to a different duty.


Eugene McCarthy was born on August 15, 1908 and hailed from Durrus, Bantry. A shoemaker by trade, he joined An Garda Síochána on March 6, 1930.

Garda Eugene McCarthy
Garda Eugene McCarthy

Based at Union Quay (Cork East Riding Divisional Headquarters) in the city, he previously served at Glenbower, Co. Tipperary, and Passage West, Co. Cork. He was one of two brothers who served in the gardaí, and was single.

On January 8, 1933, a man fell into the river at George’s Quay, Cork. Garda McCarthy, together with two local men, was the first person to arrive at the scene in a small rowing boat. In the course of the rescue, he and the men recovered the person and put him into the boat. However, in the process of transferring the casualty onto a larger motor launch, the boat overturned in the strong current and all occupants were thrown into the water.

With the help of others, lifebuoys were dispatched and all except Garda McCarthy, who was a strong swimmer, were rescued. His body was recovered a short time later.


John Roche was born on June 11, 1905, a native of Ballybehy South, Abbeyfeale, Co. Limerick. Having worked in farming, he joined An Garda Síochána on July 11, 1923.

He was a keen Gaelic football player, and served at Kinnegad, Co. Westmeath; Dungourney, Co. Cork; Watercourse Road; and MacCurtain Street in the city, where he served as Food and Drugs Inspector, clerk, and in plain clothes, before moving to the Detective Branch at Union Quay in 1937. Detective Garda Roche was married to May.

Garda Det John Roche
Garda Det John Roche

On January 3, 1940, he was on duty on Patrick Street with a number of colleagues. Gardaí approached a man they wanted to question, who produced a revolver and shot Det Garda Roche. He was taken to the South Infirmary where he died from his wounds the next day.


James Doody was born on June 26, 1944 in Coolgarrive, Killarney, Co. Kerry. He joined An Garda Síochána on February 10, 1965, and was allocated to the Bridewell Station, Cork city, on completion of his training. He also served at Barrack Street, Cork.

He was married to Mary and they had four children, the youngest of whom was just 11 weeks old at the time of her father’s death.

On January 7, 1973, Garda Doody was on duty as observer in the official patrol car. They were en route to an incident and at the junction of Glasheen Road and Wilton Road a vehicle collided with their car, resulting in Garda Doody being killed outright and his colleague being injured.


James (Séamus) McIntyre, born on June 19, 1971, came from Gortamullen, Kenmare, Co. Kerry. The son of a Garda, having previously worked as a financial consultant, he joined An Garda Síochána as a trainee on January 23, 1995. He served in Galway and Loughrea.

He was a keen GAA player, and at the time of his passing, he was stationed at Watercourse Road, Blackpool, and was single.

Garda James Doody
Garda James Doody


George Rice, born on May 15, 1956, was from Knockeens, Kilgarvan, Co. Kerry. He joined An Garda Síochána on June 10, 1981. On completion of his training he was allocated to Store Street Garda Station on November 13, 1981, and also served at Union Quay.

At the time of his death, he was attached to Mallow Road.

He played hurling, football, and tug o’war, and was married to Eilish, they had three children.

Both he and Garda McIntyre were killed in the same incident.

At 5am on Sunday, April 22, 2001, they were on mobile patrol on the North Ring Road, Cork, near Ballyvolane, when their patrol car was involved in a collision. Both gardaí died from their injuries.

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