AN extraordinary 20,000 people have applied to become gardai, even though just 300 jobs are on offer.
The first recruitment drive in more than four years has resulted in an avalanche of applications from young people from all over the country.
Justice, Equality and Defence Minister Alan Shatter said he was "greatly encouraged" by the massive response and reminded young hopefuls that they had until midnight tomorrow to submit their applications.
The recruitment to garda ranks officially began on December 9 and the Public Appointments Service website www.publicjobs.ie was inundated with applications almost immediately.
"This is the first recruitment campaign to An Garda Siochana since 2009 and it is recognised by all as being a welcome and important development," said Mr Shatter.
"I would like to remind potential applicants that the closing date for receipt of applications is midnight on January 9."
It is expected that successful candidates will enter the Garda College in Templemore in mid-2014.
Following the first 32 weeks' tuition, there will then be a further 72 weeks of on-the-job training.
The last recruits entered the Garda College in May 2009, after which the moratorium on public sector recruitment was put in place.
Denise Charlton, chief executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said the new recruitment drive was a chance "to deliver a force which reflects the communities which it serves".
She said the force's own website stated that the force was committed to being fully representative of all of Ireland's diverse communities and, as an equal opportunities employer, actively encouraged applications from all segments of Irish society.
People granted Irish citizenship, those from the EU or European Economic Area, as well as people with refugee status or who have spent five years legally living here are all eligible to join provided they meet all other requirements, she added.