Colleagues in An Gárda Síochána and the people of Castleisland turned out in ‘force’ on Friday night at the River Island Hotel for an event close to their hearts.
They were there, not from a sense of duty, but because they wanted to be there to say a heartfelt farewell and thank you to Sgt. John O’Mahony who retired after close on 40 years in the force and the last 16 spent in Castleisland.
Meetings and Greetings
A succession of tributes, meetings and greetings, speeches and gift presentations started at 8pm and continued right up to 11pm.
Sgt. John English was the impromptu master of ceremonies and he introduced those making speeches and presentations throughout the night.
It wasn’t until he cleared out his locker at Castleisland Garda Station and on his way home one day recently that the enormity of his life changing move hit him.
Decent and Hard Working
“The people of Castleisland are decent and hard working and I loved the town and my walks through the streets,” said Sgt John – who retired officially at midnight on Sunday night after almost 40 years in the force.
“I met some great people here and made friends for life and most of them are here tonight. Being stopped and welcomed on the streets here on my first days helped me settle in fast.
“Then I met Vincent Murphy when the youngsters here wanted to get a soccer league going and he told me I’d have to meet Georgie O’Callaghan.
“Georgie, God rest him, took me to my first cross-channel game at Old Trafford – which is something I thought I’d never do and it’s something I’ll always treasure,” he said.
There were presentations from Castleisland AFC and the club was represented on the night by Mike Brosnan, Jimmy O’Connor and Georgie’s twin brother, Jamesie O’Callaghan.
Castleisland station colleague, Garda Ronan Coleman along with Inspector Donal Ashe also made presentations on the night.
Great Sporting Surprise
There was also another great sporting surprise when Kerry minor footballer, Ethan Reidy and his devoted nan, Mary O’Connor arrived with the Tom Markhan Cup as their own tribute to the sports mad sergeant.
There were also gifts from Charlie Farrelly on behalf of the Cahereen Heights Residents Association and Vincent Murphy presented him with an autographed and framed Kerry football jersey.
A Humorous Account
Then the man himself took the mic and gave a humorous account of his life from his persuasion by Sgt. John Reddington in Ballyduff to join An Gárda Síochána as a young man.
He went through his part in the first Emergency Response Unit – during which he was shot during an infamous bank raid in Athy, Co. Kildare. His unit colleagues from those days were also in attendance and Eddie Rock spoke on their behalf.
The official part of the night was brought to a close by his daughters Orlaith and Laura and son, Kieran producing a cake in the colours of An Gárda Síochána with a cap and his number.
All his well-wishers then gathered around him and photographs and selfies were taken before the food was served.
Mike Condon waited patiently on stage to entertain the crowd from every walk of life from Castleisland and beyond and he did so until the small hours of the morning.
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