THE transfer of Garda training from Dublin to Templemore 50 years ago was a major occasion in the history of An Garda Síochána, and was a long time in the planning with prospective locations being toured by Commissioner Dan Costigan in 1960.
The most suitable premises identified were the McCan(stet) military barracks in Templemore.
This was for a number of reasons - McCan had sufficient accommodation and facilities, and crucially the town of Templemore itself was centrally located with a train station.
And so, in 1964, an enduring relationship between An Garda Síochána and Templemore began - aptly enough on St Valentine's Day.
I was delighted to have spent yesterday morning in the college not only meeting those from the Class of 1964 who we are honouring, but also many people from the town of Templemore.
The welcome provided to the new recruits 50 years ago could not have been warmer or more sincere. Prior to the move to Templemore a lot of work was carried out around the town in order to provide recreational facilities to the new recruits. It is this enduring generosity of spirit that shows that the town has provided a very real and tangible support to the College as it has evolved over the 50 years, and it is something I hope the town feels has been reciprocated by An Garda Síochána.
Just like the country as a whole, the college has adapted and changed throughout this period - from what we would view as the rudimentary initial training provided to the group of 190 recruits, to the wide-ranging centre of learning it has become.
As an accredited policing college, the highly skilled staff in the Garda College provide a wide-range of training not only to members of An Garda Síochána, but also to many State agencies and foreign police forces.
From investigation techniques to leadership skills to community policy, over 14,000 people benefited from the high quality training provided by the College in 2013 alone.
And I feel that the support of the town of Templemore is a microcosm for the support offered to the members of An Garda Síochána on a daily basis throughout the country.
The work carried out by members of An Garda Síochána is not only done for the community, but importantly, it is done within the community.
And while the delivery of policing is changing as the world changes, people should be rest assured that we have put in a place a range of measures to ensure that An Garda Síochána continues to deliver a highly visible, effective and community-orientated policing service to communities across the country.
It is the strong support from the community that enables us to do our work effectively and it is critical that all the members of An Garda Síochána work hard each and every day to ensure that we maintain that trust by staying true to our core values of HARP - Honesty, Accountability, Respect and Professionalism.
As we get closer to the start of a new era for the College with the first intake of recruits since 2009 shortly to begin their training, we'll be taking some time today to acknowledge and celebrate that first step in the modernisation of the delivery of police training in Ireland taken fifty years ago. There'll be reminiscing, stories, tall tales and jokes, and I'm sure at some point it'll be mentioned that of the over 13,000 currently serving members of An Garda Síochána, all will have passed through the College in Templemore.
However, the most effective way to pay tribute to those who have brought An Garda Síochána to the trusted position it holds today, is for those of us currently serving the people of the country to ensure that the organisation continues to evolve and adapt to a changing world, while maintaining the high standards of professionalism and dedication set by our predecessors so that we can continue to provide an excellent policing service to communities across the country.
*Martin Callinan is the Garda Commissioner and graduated from Templemore in 1973