herald

Friday 17 August 2018

1923 Dublin garda car reports for duty

Under the watchful eye of young officers Halle Hailey (age 9 from Drimnagh) and Jude Davis (age 7 from Finglas), Ireland’s oldest Garda car was back on duty to launch the inaugural Dublin “Vintage Port” Rally which is being supported by Dublin Port Company in aid of Barnardos.
Under the watchful eye of young officers Halle Hailey (age 9 from Drimnagh) and Jude Davis (age 7 from Finglas), Ireland’s oldest Garda car was back on duty to launch the inaugural Dublin “Vintage Port” Rally which is being supported by Dublin Port Company in aid of Barnardos.

Ireland's oldest vintage garda vehicle is a far cry from flash modern-day squad cars.

The 1923 Model T Ford of the Dublin Metropolitan Police will be one of the star attractions at the inaugural Dublin 'Vintage Port' Rally this weekend.

Fittingly, its owner is retired guard Pat O'Connor (60), from Leixlip, who serviced many vehicles while working as a mechanic at the force's headquarters in the Phoenix Park.

In the course of his career he also worked in uniform on security at the gates there.

Mr O'Connor has a great interest in cars and has researched the history of his own vehicle as far back as he could go.

He found out that when the gardai were finished with the car in 1930, it passed into private ownership.

"It went to Dr Thomas Donovan in Blackhall Street who was a surgeon in the Richmond Hospital," he said.

Mr O'Connor bought the vehicle from a subsequent owner in 1998, and said it is still going strong.

"I drove it from Dublin Port to Leixlip today," he said.

"I take it out now and again to give it a run to keep it going, but it is not a day-to-day car.

"It was initially attached to Dublin Castle. There were two cars there, including my one, of the same vintage."

Mr O'Connor suspects that it may have been used by someone in the Special Branch when it was based at the castle.

He also revealed that he found a historic piece from a garda uniform in the car.

"The guards in the old days used to have a cape, and they had a little chain holding the top of it, and I found one of those chains embedded in the seat," he said.

Back in the days when his car was being driven around Dublin, most garda stations had only a motorbike and a side car.

Those interested in seeing Mr O'Connor's car and others can go along to the rally this weekend in Dublin.

Over 150 beautifully-maintained and rarely-seen trucks, classic buses, vintage and classic cars and veteran fire and military vehicles will be on show on Sunday from 10am to 6pm at Dublin Port's trade car compound.

The vintage rally is being supported by the Dublin Port company in aid of Barnardos and is expected to prove a big crowd-puller.

fdillon@herald.ie

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