Village residents lament the loss of their garda station

PEOPLE in the Shannon Estuary village of Ballylongford yesterday described the closure of their local Garda station as another serious blow to a small community.

Ballylongford has had a garda presence for as long as locals can remember, while Moyvane, also in north Kerry, and An Clochan, in the Dingle Peninsula, are other Kerry Garda stations to be closed down because of budget cutbacks.

While Ballylongford, about 13km from Listowel, has not had a full-time officer for many years, the local station has been opened for limited periods each week which gave people access to a garda.

Marian Moroney, of Ballylongford Community Alert, yesterday said the decision was yet another blow to a village that had already seen the closure of a bank, a pharmacy and two hardware stores, but had seen off a threat to its post office.

“Our garda is a very approachable man. Everyone knows him, young and old, and you could go to him about anything whatsoever. We’ve had him for more than 10 years and he’ll be greatly missed,” she said.

“We’ve a lot of old people in what is a scattered rural area and the fact that a garda was around gave the elderly a sense of security,” she said.

“Twice a year, the garda would come to me to discuss who needed alarms, or upgraded alarms, in their homes and this was a very valuable service.”

Ms Moroney also said the garda was very much involved in the local GAA club and contributed to community life in many other ways, apart from his policing duties.

“This is something that is often overlooked. You’re not just losing a man in uniform who is a very important figure in the community, he can have other important roles as well,” she said.

“Some of the older people in Ballylongford can recall a time when the village had a sergeant and one, or maybe two, guards.

“Such men knew everyone and everyone knew them, but now whatever Garda service we will have will be from some outside area and there won’t be the same contact any more.”

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