Updated: 20/05/13 : 09:45:30
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Sligo Gardai recalled on Roll of Honour

Special Report

TWO GARDAI who lived side by side in Sligo town are featured in the Force's Roll of Honour.

Three natives of county Sligo who died elsewhere are also on the list of 87 Gardai who have died in the line of duty over the past 91 years.

The Minister for Justice, Mr Shatter, attended a ceremony which formally marked the name of Garda Adrian Donohue  from Louth being added to the list on Saturday.

A medal was also presented to Garda Donohue's widow at the weekend.

The last Sligo town based Garda to die in the line of duty was Sergeant Patrick Waters in November 1971.

The official citation on the Garda Roll of Honour recalls a sad evening only too well remembered in Sligo town as he responded to an emergency call near Carraroe.

"On 18th November 1971, Sergeant Waters, with two other colleagues from Sligo Garda Station were responding to an emergency call at Carrickhenry.

"On the way to the scene the official vehicle was in collision with another car. Sergeant Waters died as a result of the collision," the Roll of Honour states.

Sergeant Watters, pictured above, was survived by his wife Mary and nine children, one of whom subsequently joined the Gardai.

They lived at Gaol Road, in Sligo town, or Gethins Street as it was named in honour of the former governor in Sligo Prison.

Bomb Blast

Their neighbour for several years in the Gardai houses at Gaol Road was Inspector Samuel (Sam) Donegan.

He was promoted to Inspector in the mid 1960s and transferred to the Cavan Border region.

It was there in June 1972 -- just six months after his former neighbour was killed -- that Inspector Donegan died in a bomb blast.

Inspector Donegan's death was the subject of an RTE documentary 18 months ago featuring his son, Michael, who went to school in Sligo town.

Left: Inspector Samuel (Sam) Donegan.

The official citation recalls the tragedy which occurred as some of his six children prepared to sit scool exams:

"On 8th June, 1972, Inspector Donegan was one of a party of Garda and Army personnel conducting searches on the Cavan/Fermanagh border when he was killed by a booby-trap bomb on a country lane at Drumboghanagh, Newtownbutler, Co. Fermanagh."

The year 1982 was the blackest for Sligo born Gardai, with three names added to the Roll of Honour in less than a week in February.

Two Garda from near Ballymote were killed on security duties in Co Monaghan.

Explosives Escort

On 24th February, 1982, Garda Patrick Ruttledge and colleague Nathy Cawley was on explosives escort duty in a Garda patrol car from Monaghan Garda Station when it was involved in a collision with an Army truck at Broomfield, Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan. Both Gardai died instantly.                                                             

Garda Cawley, pictured left, was from Ballinacarrow while Garda Ruttledge, photo below, was from Lavagh. They were both married, with five children and one child respectively.

Just days earlier, another young Sligo Garda, Patrick Reynolds of Ballindoon became the only native of the county to be shot dead on duty when he was gunned down by the INLA in Dublin.

Suspicious activity was reported by residents of the Avonbeg Estate in Tallaght on the weekend of 20th February 1982. The area had become a hotbed of paramilitary activity.

The citation describing the shooting of the 24 years old Sligo man is one of the longest and most detailed in the Garda Roll of Honour.

It recalls: "In the early hours of 20th February, 1982, Garda Patrick Reynolds, with four other colleagues, arrived at a semi-derelict block of flats in Dublin’s Tallaght area.

"All were in uniform and were responding to an anonymous phone tip-off that three suspicious-looking men were carrying bags into a flat at Avonbeg Gardens.

Bank Robbery

"Garda Reynolds and his Sergeant checked the rear of the block. The remaining Gardai made their way to the flat identified by the anonymous caller.

Left: Garda Patrick Reynolds

"On entering the flat the Gardai found a gang of six heavily armed men and women counting the proceeds of a bank robbery which had taken place in Askeaton, Co. Limerick a couple of days previously.

"The gang members began to panic and attempted to flee from the scene. On hearing the commotion Garda Reynolds ran towards the flat itself when he was confronted by one of the gunmen, who fired at him twice, fatally wounding him.

A key suspect was recognised at the scene and many years later was arrested in a west of Ireland town.  He was never tried for capital murder.

Almost a decade before his own death in 1982, Garda Patrick Ruttledge, pictured left, had his private car hijacked by the Provisional IRA when off duty.

In 1974, the IRA had placed a 200lb bomb in his car and ordered him to drive to the village of Magheraveely, Co. Fermanagh.

On route to Magheraveely Garda Ruttledge drove his car into a field and abandoned it, averting certain danger and destruction.

Link to Roll of Honour: http://www.garda.ie/honour/default.aspx