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Irish Genealogy: The Royal Irish Constabulary

As you can see, I'm still tweaking my website and adding in some of my older blogs.  I've decided not to add all of the blogs, as many required updating.  This is an update of a blog I wrote in 2008.  Enjoy!

     The Constabulary Act of 1822 provided for Ireland's first country-wide police force, which was known as the County Constabulary.  Each barony (327) was to have 16 sub-constables, appointed by the magistrates and be under the supervision of an inspector-general for each Province.  They were to be under 40 years of age, be able to read and write and be of good character.  

   A  restructuring took place in 1836 at which time the  County Constabularies of the four Provinces were brought back together as the Irish Constabulary.  Their numbers peaked at a little over 12,000 in 1850 and then settled to  about 10,000.  The Irish Constabulary became "Royal"  in 1867 when recognized by Queen Victoria for suppressing the rising of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.   The Royal Irish Constabulary was disbanded in 1922 to be replaced in the Republic by the Garda Síochána and in Northern Ireland by the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

    Ancestry.com (world subscription) has a database of the enlistment records of the Irish Constabulary 1816-1921 (1816-1822 represents the records of the Peace Preservation Force, a predecessor to the RIC).  The records contain names of both Catholic and Protestant Irish and provide the name, age at enlistment, birthplace, comments which may include information on emigration or marriage, year of enlistment, localities where stationed and the film reference for additional information.   The source of these records is a compilation by J. Reakes and the film references are to LDS microfilms.  The original records are held at the National Archives of the UK at Kew with copies at PRONI and the National Archives of Ireland.  The easiest way to find individuals, however, is by using the LDS microfilms. 

    New recruits to the Constabulary had to be single, between 19 and 27 years old, in good health and at least 5' 9" tall.  They were not allowed to serve in the county in which they (or their wife) resided, could only marry after seven years of service, and then, only with the permission of their superiors.  

    If you are looking for records of your Irish Constabulary ancestor another resource I can recommend is Jim Herlihy's The Royal Irish Constabulary: A Short History and Genealogical Guide : With a Select List of Medal Awards and Casualties, published by Four Courts Press in 1997. (The photo above is taken from this book, p. 79.)  Unfortunately, the book is currently out of print, however I would check your local library, or WorldCat for an interlibary loan.   I had the opportunity to meet Jim at the Third Irish Congress in Maynooth (outside of Dublin) in 1997.  He has also published  complete alphabetical list of officers (listed in my Shop) as well as a book on the Dublin Metropolitan Police.  A few years ago when I was in Dublin doing research for a client Jim put me in touch with the Garda Museum at Dublin Castle where I viewed the original enlistment books for the Dublin Metropolitan Police.  Another recommendation is an article that appeared in The Irish at Home and Abroad, Volume 4, Number 1, 1st Quarter 1997, titled "The Royal Irish Constabulary Service Registers (Home Office 184 Series)" by Dr. Michael J. Hanophy, PhD.

   There are also a number of websites where you can get additional information including The Royal Irish Constabulary Forum.

    Happy Hunting 


© Donna M. Moughty 2007- 2013