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Background History of the Harp Society

It proved to be an epiphanal moment for retired Garda Pat McCarthy from Mullingar when in 2010 he picked up a copy of Richard Abbot’s book “Police Casualties in Ireland 1919-1921” and read some of the human and tragic stories behind the 493 names listed therein.

Further research brought Pat around to the sad realisation that their names have been almost totally airbrushed from history, surviving only in the collective memory of their descendants.  Regardless, these descendants whose police forbears were for the most part Irish, and Home Rule supporters, have made, and continue to make a significant contribution to Irish society.

Truth be told, quite a large number of the RIC and DMP members of that period were just decent middle aged country men with large families and long service, who had served their communities well and faithfully in the years leading up to the onset of hostilities only to suddenly find themselves on the wrong side of history’s tide and with no other means of making an income.

But not one to be put off by official amnesia, Pat resolved that the societal contribution of the RIC and DMP should be officially acknowledged and as a first step he organised a commemorative mass in Granard, Co. Longford for the fifteen RIC Officers and three Auxiliaries who were killed in what one day would become his Garda Division of Longford/Westmeath.  He intended the mass to be a reconciliatory gesture to the families of those fifteen RIC officers and even more especially to the families of the three young Auxiliary cadets who had been told by their government that they were being deployed to help the Irish people combat terrorism.

Pat soon attracted a number of Garda retirees to his banner and in August 2012 on the 90th anniversary of the RIC disbandment he and Gerry Lovett organised a first public commemoration at the RIC and DMP plots in Glasnevin cemetery in Dublin.

Each August since then the RIC & DMP Commemoration Committee has held an annual interdenominational service in the Church of St Paul of the Cross in Mount Argus, Dublin which has been very well attended by both police and public alike.

Recently the Committee passed a resolution to found a Society named the “Historical and Reconciliatory Police” (acronym “HARP”), to further the reconciliatory process.  The HARP Society’s primary objective – there are six in total – is to lobby for a dignified memorial to the memory of these forces who in the words of a renowned IRA fighter, Dan Breen, “were as good Irishmen as we were.”


Pat McCarthy, President

Gerard Lovett, Honorary Secretary / Treasurer

Jim Herlihy, Genealogist / Webmaster / P.R.O.

Willie Stratford, Research & Development

Eddie O’Donovan, Negotiation & Organisation

John Duffy, Research & Publicity

Tony Fagan, Committee Member

Walter Kilcullen, Committee Member

2015 - Committee


(L to R) Pat McCarthy, (President); Jim Herlihy, (Genealogist / Webmaster / P.R.O.); Eddie O’Donovan (Negotiation & Organisation); Tony Fagan (Committee); Tom Miller (Liason), John Duffy (Research & Publicity); Willie Stratford (Research & Development); Gerard Lovett (Honorary Secretary / Treasurer)




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