Monday 26 August 2019

Second brutal slaying of a garda in Louth


THE BRUTAL slaying of Det. Garda Adrian Donohoe is the second murder of a member of the force in County Louth in the past 30 years.

On June 27th 1985 Sgt. Patrick Morrissey was gunned down in the line of duty at Rathbrist House, Tallanstown.

Patrick Morrissey (49) was the garda sergeant in Collon and was on his way to Ardee courthouse for a sitting of the local court when word reached him that a robbery had taken place at the employment exchange in Ardee.

He flagged down a passing patrol car and began the journey that would end with his tragic death.

Michael McHugh from Crossmaglen and Noel Callan from Monaghan had entered the exchange that morning, wearing balaclavas and carrying guns.

They made off with £25,000 in a car belonging to the manager of the premises.

But close to Rathbrist House at Tallanstown, the pair were forced to abandon their vehicle after an accident and fled on foot into the grounds of the house.

Sgt. Patrick Morrissey followed them, even though he was unarmed. It was here that two shots rang out and Pat Morrissey, a father of four, was gunned down.

Callan and McHugh were brought to the Special Criminal Court in December of the same year and were sentenced to death for the capital murder of Patrick Morrissey.

It was commuted to 40 years in jail without remission.

They also got 12 years for the Ardee robbery.

The days after Sgt. Morrissey's death brought an outpouring of grief, tinged with anger and frustration.

He was a Cavan man by birth, from Drumalee, near Belturbet. He had served in places as varied as Waterford, Dundrum, Stepaside, Whitehall, Omeath, Bridewell, Phoenix Park and Collon.

He had also enjoyed his stint with the Garda Subaqua Unit and had been part of the Drogheda Rescue and Recovery Service. He loved music too, being a former tenor in the garda choir.

Then Taoiseach, Garret Fitzgerald, visited the family at Bernie's sister, Mrs Phyllis Murphy's home, at the Beamore Road, Drogheda.

He was clearly moved by their courage, remarking as he left ' they are an outstanding family and it is wonderful to see how they are facing up to his tragedy'.

Thousands stood weeping outside St Mary's Church as the coffin, bearing the tricolour, was carried shoulder high on its last journey by Sgt Patrick Clarke, Brian Duignan, Pat Robinson, John Clarke, Richard O'Leary and Andy McPhillips. Inside, Bernie Morrissey spoke of her loving husband, the man who loved the Boyneside, the Boyne Valley and its people. 'I would ask people to reflect on Pat's death and to see if some lesson can be learned from it,' she said.

Following the Mass, the funeral cortege left for Belturbet, poignantly passing through Collon, which he had served so valiantly.