Book reveals unguarded glimpse of life on the beat
A stunning coffee-table book collection of 150 photographs giving an unprecedented glimpse into the working lives of the gardai goes on sale today to raise funds for the Temple Street Children's Hospital.
Award-winning Irish Independent photojournalist Mark Condren spent the past year devoting three or four nights a week of his spare time to go on the graveyard shift with gardai from Dublin's Pearse Street station.
His objective was to get an honest bird-eye's view of their jobs. And the result is a poignant, beautifully photographed book called 'The Guards -- Behind the Scenes with the Men and Women of An Garda Siochana' which depicts every aspect of their jobs, "from the mayhem to the mundane".
Mr Condren (33), from Castletownroche, Co Cork, came up with idea after photographing his father, Gda Sgt Larry Condren, on the day he retired from his local garda station.
He came up with the money for the project himself, to raise funds for the children's hospital where his eldest son Ben, (5), is undergoing treatment for juvenile diabetes.
Although he was based in Dublin, the project took him to garda stations across the country -- including a remote station on Inis Oirr where an officer is shown guarding the election ballot box at his bedside -- to the Garda National Drugs Unit in Dublin during a major drugs raid.
His photographs also depicted the work of a variety of units -- from the air and sub-aqua units to the traffic, forensics and horse units.
The book's editor, former 'Sunday Tribune' picture editor Maureen Gillespie, said the collection was the first of its kind in Ireland.
She also credited Mr Condren with coming up with a book that was fresh, original and honest.
"He has to be one of the best photographers in the country, if not the best, but it's also a credit to his personality. He is able to get people to do things you'd never think they'd agree to," she said.
"He became part of the team and that really helped but he was no apologist for the gardai either," she said.
The book, priced €25, will be officially launched by Taoiseach Enda Kenny on November 24.
All proceeds will go to Temple Street Children's Hospital.