Thursday 24 August 2017

A Force about town


A KERRYMAN who has firmly made Kanturk his home will hang up his hat this week after just shy of four decades on the beat in Duhallow.

Garda John Fuller, originally from Glenoe, Listowel has been stationed in Kanturk since 1980. Having joined An Garda Siochana in October 1973 he found himself stationed in Cavan and Monaghan during the height of the Troubles.

"It was a common occurrence to have bombs going off and our task was to man the border and thoroughly check all cars. It called for vigilance and safety was paramount, not just for yourself but also for other people," he

In 1980, the Kerryman got a post in Kanturk, where he has remained until his last day on the Force, this Sunday.

He married Marian, whom he met in 1975, in 1983 and they have two children, Stephen and Marie. Stephen followed in his father's footsteps and is stationed in Cork city. Marie has just finished her education and undertook dental nursing along with business studies.

Garda Fuller got involved with Kanturk Community Council and has been a member for 25 years, currently serving as vice chairman. In addition, he has played an instrumental role in organising the town's St Patrick's Day parade for well over two decades.

He has also been very much involved in the revamp of the Edel Quinn Hall, and is also a member of Cork County Community and Voluntary forum representing the Kanturk Electoral area.

"I have really enjoyed my 39 1/2 years in An Garda Siochana of which 33 were spent in Kanturk," said John, adding that he never turned anybody away from the station who wanted help - from filling out a passport application to a firearm application.

Since 2004, he has been the immigration officer for the Kanturk District, which has brought him into contact with a host of cultures and nationalities throughout the world from persons residing at the asylum centre in Millstreet.

"A lot of the people are here because they had to flee persecution in their own home country," said John. "However, I have also had the unpleasant task of escorting a family or an individual to Cork airport as their asylum application was refused - that was the downside to the job."

Despite living in Duhallow, with its strong Rebel roots, he was "never afraid to fly the Kerry flag", when it came to a host of Munster finals. "Of course, I got a certain amount of slagging but that came as part and parcel with the territory," he said.

Saying "Kanturk is home for me now" he said he found the people in the town and throughout Duhallow very friendly and co-operative. However, there have also been sad times, and he has had to attend many fatal accidents.

"I found these traumatic but you had to deal with the situation. There were many times that I had to knock on a parent's door to say their son or daughter, mother or father had been died," he said.

"A person could immediately break down in grief and you would sit with that person and hold their hand and talk to them. But in those situations, you have to show your strong side, too."

In addition, he has attended numerous suicides in the region. "I still think of the person who died and their families even years after the events, something could happen to trigger that memory," he said.

Over his years in the Force he has seen much improved technical support systems come into being. Years back, there was nothing unusual in having to drive to meet colleagues who were, for example, patrolling a river after a robbery, to give any updates and then drive back to the station. This was when mobiles phones were not on the scene as well as high tech garda radios.

"I really enjoyed my time and my work colleagues have also become friends both inside and outside the force," he said.

Despite hanging up his hat, he will continue with his community work as he has always thoroughly enjoyed it. This will include being on the Southern Regional Drugs Task Force, Cork County Council's housing policy unit, the Cork County Joint Policing Committee as well as his work with IRD Duhallow.

He has recently taken up photography but travel is not on his retirement agenda - he has not been "overseas since my honeymoon and that is unlikely to change".

A get together will be held for John at the Edel Quinn Hall on Friday, January 18 at 9pm where light refreshments will be served and everyone is welcome to attend.