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Posts Tagged ‘Dublin Castle’

The theft of the Irish Crown Jewels is a mystery that goes back over a century, and remains unsolved. The Jewels were not the equivalent of the English Crown Jewels, rather the insignia of the Order of St. Patrick, the British Order of Chivalry associated with Ireland and disappeared in June 1907.

Supposed to have been assembled from diamonds belonging to Queen Charlotte, they were presented to the Order by King William IV in 1831.The Order itself technically still exists, although there has not been a granting of Knighthood since 1936. The Queen remains the Sovereign of the Order, and the Ulster King of Arms, the position of the person entrusted with the safe keeping of the regalia, still exists today.

Taken from the National Archives, NAI CSORP/1913/18119

The Jewels, valued at $250, 000 in the clipping from the New York Times below, were stolen from a safe located in the Office of the Ulster King of Arms, in the shadow of the then Detective Headquarters in Dublin Castle. The theft occurred in 1907; they were last seen in the safe in which they were stored on June 11th of that year, with the theft not discovered until the third of July, three weeks later. King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra were due to arrive in Dublin for the International Exhibition and plans were afoot to knight Lord Castletown during their visit. The process would have required the regalia of the Order and was postponed as a result. Although the King is said to have been angered by the theft, the visit went ahead.

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Garda Museum and Archives
Opening Hours:9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday
Dublin Castle Record Tower.

Michael Staines (right) and Eoin O' Duffy. Two first Garda Commissioners.

The Garda History Museum is one of individuals, as much as of the force.

Michael Staines was an interesting Volunteer. The son of an RIC man, he was the Quartermaster General within the General Post Office in 1916. When sent to Frongoch, he became ‘Camp Leader’ among the men, and upon his release became active once more at home in the Volunteer movement. On August 17, 1922, as Garda Commissioner he would lead his new police force through the castle gates.

He would be followed by Eoin O’ Duffy, another character of the republican movement, and a most controversial one to boot. Ironically, O’ Duffy had been one of the Republicans involved in the first ever capture of a Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks, in the company of Ernie O’ Malley.

Front of Museum, Dublin Castle.

This Museum, while covering the history of that force which marched into Dublin Castle in 1922, does not shy away from the forces that called it home before them. Rather, it is a comprehensive look at the history of policing in Ireland. The Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police feature prominently in the Museum, featuring both on occasion as a political force (For example the 1913 riots, which resulted in the deaths of several workers) and a day to day police force. The history of the Royal Irish Constabulary in particular is a loaded one, when one considers that, to give one example, the Black and Tans were directly employed by the RIC. Preserving history is not a matter of politics however, and to see so many quality RIC and DMP historical pieces displayed as well as they are here is a treat, and of great assistance to anyone who believes a complete picture is needed when studying some of the most remarkable years in Irish history.

Garda traffic box, a great Dublin shot.

The Museum, spanning an amazing four floors, is one of the last old-fashioned Museums in the city centre in my humble opinion. In fact, along with the Natural History Museum, it is a sort of throwback to Museums of old, and what I feel Museums should be. All the more incredible considering Dublin Castle is only home to the Museum since 1997. The correct approach to displaying items like those in the Garda Museum is simple: Allow the pieces to speak for themselves, and provide the information clearly alongside the items. There is no shortage of information available, in the form of information panels and wall displays, but unlike some museums there is no overpowering audio-visual element.

Proclamation issued April 25th, 1916.

One should not attempt to focus on individual pieces in a Museum like this, as in every corner something new grabs your attention. The Museum holds a variety of War of Independence medals for example, belonging to men who would later join the ranks of An Garda Síochanna. The above Proclamation however stands out for me, issued on April 25th in response to the Rising which began a day previous.

“WHEREAS, in the City of Dublin and County of Dublin certain evilly disposed persons and associations, with the intent to subvert the supremacy of the Crown in Ireland, have committed divers acts of violence, and have with deadly weapons attacked the Forces of the Crown, and have resisted by armed force the lawful Authority of His Majesty’s Police and Military Forces. AND whereas by reason thereof several of His Majesty’s liege Subjects have been killed and many others severely injured, and much damage to property has been caused”

The role of the Gardaí in the new state, in its first few years, is covered, where the force was to follow Staines belief that “The Garda Síochána will succeed not by force of arms or numbers, but on their moral authority as servants of the people” Early Garda documents (for example dealing with the unarmed nature of the force), uniforms and insignia are all on display.

RIC Officer.

Of course, the 1900-22 period is of particular interest to me. Perhaps for other visitors, this isn’t the case. Yet, the story of policing in Ireland told here is so long and broad that certain aspects of it will no doubt appeal to others the way parts of it did to me. Even the stairs here play home to wonderful photographs and pieces, there is not an inch of this Museum left without an item. From my own perspective, approaching the centenary of the 1913 lockout, the Easter Rising and the conflicts that followed on from it, it is no doubt time many of us with a keen interest in the period attempted to increase our understanding of the state forces in Ireland at the time.

I will conclude with a verse from ‘Good Bye RIC’, which I have taken from Jim Herlihy’s wonderful history ‘The Royal Irish Constabulary’

‘We once could walk the city too,
Dressed neatly in our suits of blue,
With polished feet and all complete,
Our heads erect going down the street,
But now we are scattered everywhere,
Far from the dear old Depot Square,
Some of them lie in graves from Foyle to Lee,
Fell fighting in the RIC’

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I’ve been wandering the steets of Dublin quite a bit in the last few days, and on Thursday found myself in the Castle itself. Looking up at the gates of the inner courtyard, I was reminded about a short but interesting titbit of local history. Atop the gates sits a statue of Iustitia, or Lady Justice to you and me.

Iustitia (Lady Justice,) Dublin Castle.

Now the interesting thing about this statue, erected by British Authorities in 1751, is that it betrays many of the characteristics statues of this type are supposed to adhere to. Iustitia, in representing Justice, is supposed to be blindfolded- Blind to discrimination. Here, her eyes are unbound. Her scales, are always to be in working order and perfectly level; Innocent until proven guilty- Here, they always tilt in one way; Funnily enough, they lean to the side of the gate that Revenue, and Dublin’s Tax Office is situated. Her sword, meant to be pointing downwards is held provocatively upright and she looks at it with a smile on her face.

What really got to people when she was erected however, is the direction she is faced; You will find statues of lady justice in Government buildings all over the world, and you will find her looking out over the city. Only in Dublin, does she face into the courtyard, turning her back on the people of Dublin. Just a thought; How could the tribunals held regularly in the Castle ever come out with a fair and honest representation of Justice when Lady Justice herself presides over them with her back to the people and a smile on her face?

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