Garda Martin (Mattie) O’ Sullivan

Martina Oates

Garda Mattie O'Sullivan in the day room 1989
V. Morrison
Moycullen mourns passing of Garda who came to stay
Connacht Tribune July 6th 2012
Mattie O'Sullivan with Barney Sweeney at his retirement in 1989
M. Oates
Mattie Sullivan Retiring with Garda Michael Folan, Tom Duffy, Sergeant Joe Boyce and Fr. Malachy Hallanan
M. Oates
Garda Senan O'Sullivan (Son of Mattie O'Sullivan)

Stationed in Oughterard /Moycullen West district from 1961-1989

Mattie O’ Sullivan was born in Carraig Thiar, Corr na Móna on the Galway Mayo border on January 17 th 1926. He was the third eldest in a family of five boys and two girls. He was educated in the local primary school and went on to study for further five years at the Christian brothers in Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. During his leaving cert year, he did the entrance exam for the Garda Síochana and was successful in securing a place in the Phoenix Park in 1945 at the age of 19.

The Phoenix Park was then the headquarters and training centre for all new recruits. Like many young men of his day Mattie followed in the footsteps of his uncle John Lowry (his Mum’s brother), who had been stationed in Eglington Street, Galway Garda Station. Mattie’s first cousin, Marcus Gill of Clonbur, who was in the same class as him in Ballinrobe, was also a Garda recruit and followed him to the training centre some six months later. Mattie often spoke of the tough training they received in Dublin and the strict discipline that was involved but also spoke highly of all the wonderful colleagues that he met and would remain friends with him for seventy years.
On leaving the depot, he was first stationed in Rathangan, County Kildare and would stay there for five years before heading to Caherdaniel, Waterville in South Kerry for another three and a half years. It was the custom in those days that a Garda couldn’t be stationed with 28 miles of his home place. The’ grá ‘to return home to his home county of Gaillimh came to fruition and he was stationed in Leitir Mór for over two and half more years.

Everywhere he went he managed to make time to play Gaelic football. It was a great means of getting to know the locals and very important part of gathering local knowledge for a Garda in those days. Mattie was very proud of his sporting achievements but most especially the county junior medal that he won with Micheál Breathnachs, Gaillimh in 1957.
In the late 1950’s Mattie moved to Craughwell where he would remain for six years. It was there he met his future wife, Kathleen.
In 1961 Mattie moved again and this time it was to Moycullen. He would spend almost thirty years working here and reporting to Oughterard which was the Garda headquarters for the West of the
county at that time.
Mattie had a great love for Moycullen, and this remained with him during his lifetime. When Mattie came to Moycullen back in 1961, there was a Sergeant John Crofton in charge along with three other Gardai named Liam Hoare, Con Gallagher and Barney Sweeney.
Within two years Liam Hoare was promoted to Sergeant and moved to Athenry while Barney Sweeney took up a new position in An Ceathrú Rua and Con Gallager moved to Salthill. John Crofton had now retired and so Mattie would remain as the only Garda in the barracks for the next 27 years.
Moycullen was a relatively quiet place with little crime. Living on the shores of Lough Corrib was idyllic, where he would enjoy fishing his greatest pastime. In 1971 Mattie won the Irish National wet-fly competition and the following year would go on to represent his country on the Irish team who would go on to win the International Competition on Lough Sheelin. Moycullen and its surrounding was a happy and friendly place to reside and bring up a family and so his roots were planted here.

In Moycullen Garda Station all of the work and notes were ’trí ghaeilge’ and Mattie was very fortunate to have excellent spoken Irish. He always conversed trí Ghaeilge with the residents of Sliabh an Aonaigh , Pilagh ,Tullnanonne and na Tamhnacha Beaga. His handwriting was very distinctive and complimented by many but
particularly by his superiors over the years in service.
Mattie managed to police the area as best as he could, and he felt that a few words in the ear or the verbal warnings worked much better than summons and prosecutions. Most definitely, he was known as a very ’fair ‘man in the locality and within the width and breath of Connemara. Mattie had 44 years of service in an Garda
Síochána. He retired in 1989 and would go on to have many more enjoyable years after his retirement. His legacy has outlived him as there are many people who still speak highly of him still to this day.
His son Senan would follow in his footsteps and join the Garda force in 1983. He served as Garda first and later as a detective in Limerick for 30 years.
Mattie was a proud Galway man with a great love of his people, his job, his area and his family. He passed away peacefully on June 17th, 2012.



Text from The Connacht Tribune 6th July 2012

There was sadness and deep sympathy around the general district and the recent death of former Garda, Martin (Mattie) O’Sullivan which took place suddenly at his home in Drimneen, Moycullen recently.

Throughout his long and active life, he was affectionately known as ‘Mattie’. He was widely known and popular, and this was clearly reflected in the very large congregations from far and wide who came together for their removal of remains and burial ceremonies. The reposing of the remains took place at his residence in Drimneen before removal to the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Moycullen on Tuesday evening.

The burial ceremonies took place to the local cemetery following the celebration of requiem mass and prayers on Wednesday afternoon. Many tributes were extended to the deceased on his life and times when Moycullen was a quiet rural parish and crime was almost nonexistent in the community.

Mattie O’Sullivan was born in Carraig Thiar, Corr na Móna on January 17th 1926. His parents were Peadar Ó Suilleabháin of Dubhros and Treasa Ní Labhra of Dubhros. Following his early education at Corr na Móna National School and with the Christian brothers in Ballinrobe, he went forward for Gárda training in Dublin.

In 1945 at the age of 19 years he went to train as a member of An Gárda Síochána at Phoenix Park in Dublin.

Following his training he gave 44 years of loyal service up to his retirement in 1989. He served for five years in Rathangan in County Kildare and after this for three and a half years in Caherdaniel/Waterville areas of South Kerry.

Following his time and Kerry he returned to his native Galway and on to An Leitir Móir/Ceantair na nOileáin for two and a half years. After this period he served in Craughwell for six years before arriving in Moycullen in 1961/62 where he stayed up to his retirement.

When he came to Moycullen, Sergeant Crofton, Barney Mac Suibhne and Con Gallagher were working with him, until Moycullen became a one Gárda station in 1968.

As a native Irish speaker from Dúiche Sheoigheach he did all his reports in Irish and spoke the language to the many people who spoke Irish on a daily has is in many areas of the parish at the time.

As well as his long years of Gárda service, he had a very special interest and active involvement in angling and in many types of sport. He loved the Mayfly days out on the waters of his beloved Lough Comb. In addition to enjoying these outings and meeting with people, he achieved huge success at many levels of competition.

He used to fish with his great friends, Dr. Eamonn Scully, John Learaí Walsh, Martin Joe Walsh and Dan Moran, amongst others. In 1972, he won the Wetfly National Championship held on Lough Sheelin in County Cavan.

In the following year he was a member of the twelve strong Irish team which captured the wet fly international title when the major event was successfully staged on Lough Corrib. Ireland had not won this title for twenty-one years and it gave him great satisfaction. He liked shooting, football and handball. He played football in the Kingdom of Kerry and throughout County Galway. He won a football title with Mícheál Breathnach/An Cheathrú Rua back in 1954. He was honoured at the Golden Jubilee celebrations some years ago. He played with Craughwell and with Clonbur (An Fháirche).

In 1956, while playing with the Connemara Gaels, including players from Clonbur to Clifden , he collected a County senior league medal. They overcame Tuam Stars at the time when the Stars were tops in Galway football and around the Country, as they had household names such as the “Terrible Twins” Seán Purcell and Frankie Stockwell and the Galway All Ireland winning, Captain Jack Mangan. He was a strong and committed player.

The famous Galway footballer, John Bosco McDermott who played with him referred to him this week as Stone Wall Sullivan, which is what he was known as at the time. He was also a fine handballer who regularly performed in many competitions in the open Ball Alley in the village. He had a fine sense of humour and he always enjoyed being with people.

He will be fondly remembered in all areas. He was 86 years of age and was it very sound health up to a few short years ago.

The late Mattie O’Sullivan is survived by his wife, Kathleen (nee Sylver). They marked the Golden Jubilee of their marriage last year. He is also survived by his sons, Senan (Limerick), Ronan (Corrandulla) and Ultan (Gort à Chaladh, Moycullen), also by his daughter Martina Oates in Tooreeny, Moycullen; by his brother, Michael in England, sisters Mrs. Mary Kelly, Glenamoy County Mayo and Mrs. Brid Roycroft in Cahir, County Tipperary, by his son-in-law, daughter in-law, nine grandchildren, nieces, nephews, relatives and a very wide circle of friends.

Like so many of his generation he had witnessed huge local changes and developments. He would often speak of the great events, the sad events and characters he encountered during his time in Moycullen.

The area has said goodbye to many widely known members in recent months and sadly the district will never be the same without them. It was always a pleasure to meet with Mattie, provided you stayed on the right side of the law. He advised, counselled and directed many people of all age groups. The age-old saying ”Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann” is often quoted but as I spoke with many of Mattie’s friends and family this week I feel it is apt in this case. Tá Fear láidir, stuama ar lár. Solas na bhFlaitheas da anam dílis.

Seamus Gavin



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