Two Tipperary Brothers - Gold Scott Medals
Thomas J. Callanan (Tommy Joe) was born at Lisbalting, Kilsheelan, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary on 7 November 1931 and left farming for a career with the Gardai on 27th May 1954. From the early seventies until he retired in 1984, he was Sergeant-in-charge of the Special Criminal Court. In the late afternoon of 6 January 1977 he entered the Bank of Ireland at Whitehall, Dublin, unarmed, in plain clothes and on private business only to find an armed robbery in progress. One of the raiders placed the barrel of a sawn-off shot gun against his stomach and ordered him to the floor. Except for bank staff and one other customer, all lying prone, nobody but Callanan were present. Despite the unenviable odds, Callanan instantly struck the gun aside and knocked the raider to the ground. He was then attacked by one of the other men who called on his accomplices to flee while striking Callanan a heavy blow on the shoulder with a krooklock.As one of the fleeing raiders, bag of money in hand, vaulted the counter, Callanan seized him and grabbed the bag ,throwing it back over the counter. A brief inconclusive struggle followed, during which Callanan managed to pull off the man's mask and found that the robber's features were known to him. All four raiders, put to flight by one intrepid unarmed Guard, were arrested near the bank quite soon afterwards. When examined, the shotgun which had been held against Callanan's stomach was found to be loaded with two live cartidges.
Thomas J. Callanan received the Scott Gold Medal from Gerard Collins, Minister for Justice, on 24 November 1977 at Templemore Garda Training Centre. He continued thereafter to serve in the Dublin Metropolitan Division, retiring on 11 June 1984 after 30 years and 16 days. He died on 14 November 1997 having battled a coronary problem since 1970.
His brother Sergeant Philip F. Callanan, born on 9 January 1936 became a Scott Gold Medalist one year later in similar circumstances.While serving in Tullow (Carlow/Kildare Division) on 16 January 1978, in uniform and unarmed, he challenged four armed robbers outside the town's Bank of Ireland. He seized one of the raiders but was shot in the thighs, sustaining severe injuries. Sergeant Phillip Callanan received his Scott Gold Medal from Justice Minister Gerard Collins in November 1978 at a ceremony in Templemore Garda Training Centre. He continued to serve thereafter in the Carlow-Kildare Division, retiring on 31 August 1988 after 30 years and 11 days service.The following comments were posted by Noel H:
...exactly 54 years earlier on 8th January 1924 Walter Scott wrote to General Eoin O'Duffy, who was then Commissioner of An Garda Siochana, confirming his offer to endow a Medal for valour for the new Irish Police Force. In that letter he stated that "it has always been a practice of mine to present flowers during life, when one can enjoy their beauty and fragrance". Later that year when Commissioner O'Duffy was presenting a very first Scott Medal to James Mulroy, later a D/Sgt.in Ennis, Co. Clare, he stated that "a brave Guard is braver than a brave Soldier.The Soldier goes into battle under the command of his officers, but the Guard is often on his own with his own decisions to make. He fights his fight alone".
How propetic then were these remarks in January 1978 when Phil Callanan, unarmed, confronted four masked men coming out of the Bank of Ireland in Market St, Tullow, Co.Carlow. He was on his own with his own decisions to make. In the Main Square in Tullow there is a fine monument erected to that insurgent priest, Fr.John Murphy of Boolavogue. Perhaps a similar monument will also be erected some day outside the Bank of Ireland in Tullow to commemorate Phil Callanan's bravery.