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Funny side of being a guard told in new book

Around IrelandBy Alan Sherry
Cyril Meehan
Cyril Meehan

BEING a Garda may not be a barrel of laughs every day, but a recently retired detective sergeant has revealed the lighter side of the job in a new book.

Retired detective sergeant Cyril Meehan, from Westport, Co. Mayo, spent 30 years in the force from 1983 following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.

His career saw him based in Donegal, Waterford, Wexford and Louth before finishing up as a detective sergeant investigating serious crime in the north west.

The reason his book came about stemmed from a conversation his father had on local radio after his retirement.

“He was great at recounting stories, but he was asked about any of his funny experiences in the job and he couldn’t think of one. I was in the guards a year or two at that stage so I decided I’d keep a bullet point of the funny things that happened to me,” says Cyril.

The end result is The Ideal Guard, a book detailing more than 80 funny incidents that Cyril was involved in. From a man turning up at his own funeral to a garda tackling and trying to arrest a mannequin, Cyril reveals the funny side of the job. 

“You get blue humour in the guards, nursing and the fire service. It gets you though the stressful situations,” he says.

Another story in the book is about a horse who was arrested and put in a cell.

 “There was a horse tethered to a stake outside a school in Donegal,” Cyril said. “The teachers complained on health and safety grounds that a child would be kicked. They phoned the guards who went up to the owner at his caravan and told him to move his horse. But it didn’t happen.

“I was on duty one morning and a colleague got a call in complaining about the horse. ‘He said, ‘f*** this, I’m going to sort this once and for all’.”

“About 20 minutes later I hear the clip-clop of a horse outside. My colleague had the hat high up on his head like a cowboy,” Cyril recalls.

“The next thing I hear the clip-clop coming up the hall in the station. Next thing my colleague was opening the cell and putting the horse inside.”

“I turned around to him bluffing, saying he’d have to put it into the custody record. He said, ‘I will’. He scribbled down details. Next thing another guard came in to relieve me.

“He asked if there were any prisoners in and I told him ‘yeah there’s one awkward bastard in’.

“He read the custody record and he was saying, ‘an awkward one, I see he didn’t give his name’. Then he read the description – big eyes, long nose, big teeth. ‘An ugly f*cker, as well,’ he said.”

Cyril also tells of another tale of calling in to a pub which was serving after hours. He spotted the owner moving all the after-hours customers into another room. The owner then told him he didn’t have a key for it.

“I said to the bar owner, ‘look, never mind the key to the door, sure I saw them with my own two eyes in here a while ago’.

“The bar man suddenly became furious and shouted into my face: ‘At least you have two eyes!’

“He then proceeded to pluck one of the eyes out of his head and placed it on the bar counter.

“To this day I do not know if the bar man incorrectly thought I was making fun of him, with my saying ‘I saw it with my own two eyes’.”

Cyril said he fears the humour isn’t there as much for guards anymore.

“Some of the younger guards tell me nowadays the humour is gone out of it, because there’s very little time for having a bit of craic. There’s less members now and then there has been an increase in crime so the pressure is on.

The Ideal Guard has been a big success and Cyril said he plans to write a second book focusing more on the more serious aspects of the job.

He was pal of Gary Sheehan who was a Garda trainee just three months into his service when he was shot dead along with army private Patrick Kelly by an IRA gang who had kidnapped Don Tidey in 1983.

Cyril carried the coffin of his friend at his funeral service.

“My own life was at a risk a few times. You’d have people coming at you with a knife or being dragged by Provos in a car as a young rookie along the border. There was a lot of serious side to the job.”

The Ideal Guard is available from theidealguard.com and bookshops nationwide.