Memorial to be unveiled to two gardaí shot dead by bank robbers in 1980

Families of John Morley and Henry Byrne to attend ceremony in Co Roscommon

A memorial will be unveiled on Friday afternoon by Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan near Loughglynn Co Roscommon to two gardaí shot dead in a shoot-out by alleged members of the Irish National Liberation Army on July 7th 1980 following a bank robbery.

The perpetrators of the robbery in Ballaghaderreen were intercepted by a patrol car from Castlerea Garda station at Shannon's Cross, Aghaderry, Loughglynn with four gardaí inside.

They included Detective Garda John Morley (37), armed with an Uzi machine gun, and Garda Henry Byrne (29). The bank robbers opened fire and in the subsequent gun battle John Morley and Henry Byrne were killed. Both were posthumously awarded the Scott Medal.

Det Gda Morley was a noted senior county footballer for Mayo up to 1974 while Gda Byrne played for his local club at Knock. Both were from Knock, Co Mayo, where they are buried.


Following the killings three men were arrested, convicted and sentenced to death by hanging for capital murder. Two weeks before their execution dates in June 1981 their sentences were commuted to 40 years imprisonment with no parole.

One of the men, Peter Pringle, always denied involvement in the crime and his conviction was overturned by the High Court in 1995 due to discrepancies in evidence. The other two, Colm O'Shea and Patrick McCann, were released in 2013 after the Supreme Court ruled that a prisoner serving 40 years for capital murder was entitled to normal remission.

The attendance at Friday's ceremony will include Det Garda Morley's widow Frances, Gda Byrnes's widow Anne Marie, and their children, with Assistant Garda Commissioner Anne Marie McMahon, Lt Col Walter Hunt of the Defence Forces, Garda Chaplains Fr Joe Kennedy and Archdeacon David Pierpoint, the Army Band, and local politicians.

A book to honour both deceased gardaí will be launched at the Community Centre in Loughglynn after the unveiling ceremony.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times