ANOTHER LITERARY GARDA
By Mattie Lennon
“A polisman goes after vice as an officer iv th’ law an’ comes away as a philosopher.” (Finley Peter Dunne.)
I don’t know how many Guards became philosophers but quite a few have become scribes.
Another retired member of the force who joined the literati some years ago is still pounding the keyboard. John McGonigle, retired Sergeant, has published his second book, Guardians. (His first novel Feather Heads was, he says, “ . . . told through the innocent eyes of a young boy growing up in a Border Town during the late 1950s where his father was a member of An Garda Siochana .” It was based loosely on his childhood years with “wild imagination used as “fillers.”.
John began his education with the Louis Nuns in Clones Co. Monaghan., and remembers getting Angels stuck in his Copy Book for Essays he’d written. He then went ‘up the hill’ to the boys school (The Largy) and then to St. Tiernach’s Secondary School until he completed the Leaving Cert. He claims he’d spend more time writing, Songs and Plays , than at what he was supposed to be doing.
Like Patrick Kavanagh he left the stony grey soil of Monaghan and ended up in London where he tried unsuccessfully to get into RADA ( Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.) “So my dream of becoming an Actor failed before I even got started”.
(However, he did grace our screens of black-and-white telly when he presented Garda Patrol.)
He washed dishes to augment his miserly pay as a Bank Clerk, and he has the humility to admit that; being a Bank Clerk I mean, not washing dishes. Eventually he “ saw the light” and returned home to join the Gardai in 1969.
He served in the “C” District DMA, also in the Crime Task Force and then “R” District before being promoted to sergeant and transferred to Swanlinbar, Co. Cavan. He returned to the DMA and went on United Nations Duty to Cyprus. On his return from the island in the sun he served in the “H” District and retired from Dublin Airport Garda Station in 2004.
He is no stranger to the world of print. While in the Gardai he had a few articles published in the Garda Review, including a Poem entitled “What Else Do You Do.” He says , “ this was really the basis for my later novel Guardians as it dealt with the diverse characters and varied duties within An Garda Siochana.”
After retirement his writing began in earnest and he wrote “FEATHER HEADS.”
“GUARDIANS” (a Garda Mystery Thriller) was written with the intent of enlightening the public on the trials and tribulations that a Garda deals with in their daily work.
Garda Bobby Timmons is a respected and experienced young Policeman attached to Russell Street Garda Station in Dublin City. He got fulfillment carrying out his varied duties until his colleague was gunned down at a bank raid and he held himself partly responsible. After the fatal shooting he questioned his suitability as a policeman and became more reliant on his pal Garda Liam Reilly who has a more haphazard approach to the job.
….he flipped the suitcase lid open, exposing a dismembered human leg…
Bobby begins a relationship with a beautiful Spanish Student, Bagonia Chuz Fernandez. She is an au pair to a wealthy family who have been targeted for a Kidnapping by Latvian mobsters. Vladislav Drobkov, alias Rat Eye, is the notorious Latvian Gang Lord in control of all major crimes in the city. He intends carrying out the Kidnapping with the help of a ‘mole’ in the Gardai, who is also linked to the fatal shooting of the Garda at the bank raid.
Detective Superintendent Barry Baynes of the Garda Non-Nationals Criminal Intelligence Unit is assigned the task of bringing Rat Eye and the Garda ‘mole’ to justice.
… the Garda sharpshooter pressed the stock of his Beretta M501 to his cheek and aimed …
Bobby’s life is to be sucked inadvertently into the consequences of the ensuing investigation with catastrophic results.
Lawrence Block’s detective, Matthew Scudder, has stood the test of time. Will we see Bobby Timmons appear in future novels?
One of John’s early poems was meant to convey a more simple side of police work. The following is a short extract from it;
WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO
WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO ‘CEPT WALK ABOUT,
HEAD IN THE AIR AND CHEST STICKING OUT,
WHAT ELSE DO YOU ‘CEPT STOP SOME CARS,
SAY, BLOW IN THIS BAG YOU’VE HAD A FEW JARS,
WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO ‘CEPT, ASK IS SHE TAXED –
THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS COMMONLY ASKED,
WELL LISTEN TO THIS WITH A BIT OF REGARD,
‘CAUSE IT’S THE BUSINESS WE DO IN THE LIFE OF A GUARD –
HE’S BEATING HIS WIFE AND ITS GONE TOO FAR;
OH! FORGOT TO TELL YA, THEY’VE STOLEN MY CAR,
THERE’S A PIGEON IN TROUBLE ITS ‘HURTED’ ITS CLAW;
THAT BASTARD UP THERE JUST BUSTED MY JAW;
MY DAUGHTER’S YOUNG SON HE WONT GO TO MASS,
SHE GOT FED UP WITH LIVING AND STOPPED IT WITH GAS.
BUT YOU’RE A PIG AND A SCUM AND A FARMERS-REJECT,
ITS OFTEN YOUR THANKS AND ONLY RESPECT ,
SO NEXT TIME THAT YOU WONDER “WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO” –
WELL ADD IT ALL UP – NOW ANSWER IT YOU.
I agree with Garrett Bonner, of the publishers , Original Writing, who says “This wonderful book is a must read for anyone in Law enforcement in Ireland”, and, I may add, for those who are not in the law-and-order business also.
Details on www.originalwriting.ie