Friday, February 24, 2012

The Guards: A Year Behind the Scene with the Men and Women of An Garda Siochana

Mark Condren (PPAI Photojournalist of the Year 2009, 2010) gained unprecedented access to photograph An Garda Síochána (the Irish police) for a year.

His idea began in 2007 when his son was born with Type 1 diabetes and spent alot of time in Temple Street Childrens Hospital. He decided to raise some money for the hospital and with his father, uncle and wife  in or ex Garda he thought a photo book on the Garda was a good way to go. The Garda Press Office and Superintendent John Gilligan were on board and it was set in motion.

I hadn't heard about the book and stumbled across (not even in the photo section) it in a bookshop. A quick flick through the pages and I was walking to pay for it before seeing the price (a very nice €25) or that the proceeds would be going to the charity. The quality of the photographs and the amount of content and subjects covered really is amazing and I wouldn't have hesitated to spend twice the cost on it.

It is divided into  a number of chapters varying in size and themes, with a little introduction for each chapter, with each photograph getting a brief explanation.

Photographs include a look at training at Templemore, riots, Obamas visit. Rural & inner city Garda and their interaction with the local residents. Photographs of night patrols, checkpoints, breath tests. There are nice concise chapters for things like "The Poitín Still".

Crazy nights in Templebar ending in the wrong end of high heels in hand cuffs! Crime scenes and forensics. Topics such as "A Ballot Box" of a little photo essay of voting on the islands. A little insight into RTE's "Crimecall".

The Aqua Unit. The Immigration Unit. Ballistics. The Air Unit. The Drugs Unit. Mounted Division. Its all covered and the access Mark got and his photographs are really impressive.

If you have an interest in policing this is for you, or like me if you like photojournalism you'll love this. And at the great price of €25 for top quality and the chairty involved makes it an extra bonus.

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Editor: Mark Condren
Photographer: Mark Condren

Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Ballpoint Press Limited (10 Nov 2011) (@BallpointPress1)
ISBN-10: 0955029872 ISBN-13: 978-0955029875

Its not on Book Depository yet, but Chapters () on Parnell Street still have them in stock.


  1. Nice review, I often see people online looking for a copy, it must have been a limited print run?

    1. Yeah, I think it sold far better than expected. It pops up occasionally in Chapters on Parnell Street, Dublin.