Nenagh – A touch of class

pictured: Gardaí Michael Gohery, Mairead Hehir and Niall Murphy of Nenagh Garda Station exude authority - impressively wrapped in an outer layer of kindness and common sense.  pictured: Gardaí pay close attention to a briefing in the Station before executing a search warrant in a local house.pictured: When executing a search warrant, every room of the target house was searched with a fine tooth comb by Nenagh gardaí. pictured: Every one of the Frontline gardaí you meet in Nenagh seems genuinely happy to be there. You can surely pay them all no better tribute.pictured: There’s a bit of class about Nenagh’s Frontline and its Superintendent, David Nolan.

As Editor, John O’Keeffe recently discovered, Nenagh Garda Station is more than the sum of its parts and it contributes to both urban and rural policing like few others

Nenagh is the largest town in North Tipperary with a tantalisingly uneven population count of 7,995 at the last census and with a District size of some 44,500. It is part of the historical Barony of Ormond and this land was included in the grant made by King John of England to Theobald of Lancashire, England. Theobald was subsequently appointed Chief Butler of Ireland – and I’m not talking head servant here. You see, Tipperary’s ‘North Riding’ does grand and then some. There’s a bit of class too about Nenagh Garda station and its Superintendent David Nolan. Just look at that beautiful red door and its top Garda; Superintendent Nolan, who originally hails from Tullamore – an area he stills lives in.

The total area of the District places Nenagh as one of the largest Garda Districts in the country. To give you an idea of size, Nenagh Garda District is larger than five whole individual counties in Ireland (Louth, Carlow, Dublin, Longford and Monaghan).

In terms of strength, there is one Inspector (Amanda Reynolds) attached to Nenagh, one Detective Sergeant (Brendan Carey) and six uniform sergeants, with thirty-two gardaí attached to the regular units. In addition, there are three appointed detectives and two members of the drugs unit and a JLO. They also have an increasing number of Garda Staff, which currently includes five executive officers, eight clerical officers and three temporary clerical officers.

But what are the Frontline like in Nenagh? As I was to find out, as professional as you will find in any Unit around the country. Gardaí Michael Gohery, Mairead Hehir and Niall Murphy are a case in point. Hehir was former Cabin Crew with Aer Lingus before she joined AGS and her experience in her previous life with all types of people shows. Like her two male colleagues, she combines all the necessary authority but impressively wrapped in an outer layer of kindness and common sense.

And these gardaí need to be on their toes at all times. The M7 motorway runs through the spine of the Garda District which offers inter regional travelling criminals access to the District through a number of off ramps and junctions. The crime figures over the last four years are also a reflection of the level of crime within Nenagh District and prove that it is one of the busiest Districts within the Division of Tipperary. As Nolan points out, “A large volume of our detected burglaries are as a result of travelling criminals and the ease of access to the District. In the height of the summer (pre Covid-19) this sees an increase in levels of theft from vehicles for example.” There are, therefore, ever increasing demands being made of the Uniform and Detective Units in Nenagh District with the increase in the level of serious headline and property crime incidents in recent times.

On the day I visited, a search warrant was being conducted nearby. A no nonsense brief in the station was quickly followed by a speedy exit up and down country lanes until we got to our target house. I’m not sure how you can politely conduct a house search where an uncooperative criminal is known to live and where you have good evidence that drugs will be found – but Nenagh gardaí must have written the book. Every room was searched with a fine-tooth comb and I swear these men and women have eyes in the back of their heads. I’m not sure I’d ever like to have my house searched by gardaí, but if I had to be, I’m guessing I’d probably just hand myself in if I saw this group coming up the drive.

In terms of Covid-19, like their colleagues up and down the country, Nenagh gardaí commenced a new contingency roster in March 2020 and Superintendent Nolan describes getting “excellent feedback from members” since it has arrived. He also reminds me that the work ethic and dedication of members attached to this station is “second to none” but if there was one thing Nolan would introduce in the morning if he could for his Frontline, it would be body-cameras, the benefits of which he describes as, “immense.”

As I made my way back to Dublin there was one memory that I will keep from my time with the Frontline of this incredibly pro-active station and that is that everyone I met seemed genuinely happy to be there. You can surely pay them all no better tribute.

For full and in-depth coverage, see the current printed edition of Garda Review.

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