The hand of history was on the shoulders of Gardai who marched through Louth’s major towns over the last week as part of An Garda Síochána centenary celebrations.
Crowds lined the streets of Dundalk on Thursday as local gardai were joined by the Garda band and the Garda ceremonial unit in a parade from Market Square to Dundalk Garda Station at the Crescent, where a commemorative tree was planted.
Similar events had already been held in Drogheda on Tuesday and Ardee on Wednesday.
Chief Supt Alan McGovern told The Argus it was “a very special occasion for all of us” as he reflected on a week of commemorative events across the county.
"There is a really good community spirit in the Louth division, right across from Dundalk to Ardee and Drogheda, that has always been there, and we have been very grateful to local people for their support.”
He added: “The reason behind the centenary events has been to celebrate with the community, and as a reminder that in over one hundred years of policing that we have done it together.”
"We are always aware in An Garda Síochána that we can’t do it on our own, so we really wanted people right across Louth to celebrate with us, which I hope came across in all of the events.”
Chief Supt McGovern, who has been a serving member of the force for 24 years, added that there have been some “quite significant” changes over the years.
"I do think we’ve grown closer to the community, in terms of the services we provide, and are a much more collaborative service, with other agencies and local communities.”
He added that serving gardai felt the sense of history as they joined commemorative events, saying “we are celebrating the centenary for all of those who have gone before us, who are retired or deceased.”
“When someone retires from our organisation they still have that sense of pride and cameraderie, and that sense of community. It never leaves you, it stays with you forever, which we could see in the large turnout of retired members at events around the county this week.”
"We are proud to serve the community over the last one hundred years, and I’d like to thank the public for the patience during marches held, and for acknowledging our celebrations along the way.”
Many among the crowds turning out walked along behind Gardai as they made their way back to Garda stations in Dundalk, Ardee and Drogheda.
“I want to pay tribute also to the national Garda band who entertained the crowds across the county as part of the celebrations, and to our ‘Little Blue Heroes’ who marched alongside us, it is something that we love doing, and we hope it brings some joy to them and their parents.”
Alongside the celebrations a series of public exhibitions were also held in all three towns, with current and past Garda memorabilia on display.
There were poignant acknowledgements too of Gardai who had lost their lives in the line of duty and those who died during their service, with wreath laying ceremonies around the county.
A commemorative centenary medal and coin presentation was also held in Dundalk on Friday evening, where serving and retired Gardaí and civilian staff from the Louth Garda Division, as well as the families of those who served but have since passed, were in attendance.