Vinny’s Vinilantes hit the streets after third mugging

Over 20 lads agreed to give a weekend night for the cause of the community

They were deployed in four pairs, all roughly half a mile apart, and posted at major junctions in Clontarf.

The eight men wore dark clothes, in some cases elbow and knee padding, and each was equipped with a mobile phone, and a weapon of their choosing.

In Vinny Fitzpatrick’s case, it was a weather-beaten mashie niblick, its grooves leveled by age, which had once been used by one of the Whitecombe brothers in the Irish Open at Portmarnock.

It was 10.30 on Saturday evening, and Clontarf’s newly-formed “Vinilantes” were on call for the first time.


They had assembled at short notice following the appalling events of the previous week which left Vinny with a busted nose, stitches in his scalp, empty pockets and a burning desire to make amends.

Upon reporting the mugging the following morning to Sergeant Paddy Potts in Clontarf Garda Station, Vinny had been startled by two revelations.

“Flower” Potts, as he was known, informed Vinny he was the third victim of a late night attack in the Clontarf area in the past fortnight.

Each of the targets had been drinking locally, in either Foley’s or Shingles, which Vinny felt was significant. The incidents had all occurred after midnight, at weekends, and involved two assailants.

Descriptions were vague but reports of a tall, thin, man in his 40s, and a younger accomplice, fitted Vinny’s painful memory.

When Vinny pressed Flower what was being done about it, the veteran officer shrugged. “Look, we’ll get a squad car to patrol the area every hour or so but apart from that there’s not a lot we can do.”

Vinny had been appalled at the lack of care from the state’s great protectors. As he walked back to Foley’s along the seafront, the solution hit Vinny like another slug on his bruised jaw: He and his pals would be the Bobby’s on the beat.

Against the odds, the response had been overwhelming. Over 20 lads, all members of the Soiled and Ancient Golf Society which supped in Foley's, agreed to give a weekend night over to the cause of the community.

The first shift was arranged for Saturday and Vinny was at the helm. Of his have-a-go heroes only Big Dave, the gigantic Kilbarrack fireman, had any real experience of enforcing the law – he'd once decked an arsonist on Halloween. As Big Dave could handle himself, Vinny was in harness with him, among the palm trees by the car park at the foot of Vernon Avenue, from where they could see Foley's.

Brennie and Kojak were at the crossroads of Seafield Road, Macker and Fran were further up at the Mount Prospect junction, while Two-Mile Boris and Charlie Vernon were observing the revellers leaving Shingles on Conquer Hill Avenue.

The shift was to run for three hours, until 1.30, as Vinny felt it would be unfair to ask the Vinilantes to do any more than was reasonable.

Something afoot
A bit like a fisherman on the rocks off Howth, Vinny didn't expect a tug on the wire on the first night. However, just after midnight, there was a jolt: something was afoot.

The text was from Charlie and read: “Suspicious activity on Kincora Road. Chap being followed after leaving Shingles.” Instantly, Vinny alerted the other two parties and urged them to head for Kincora from the Vernon Avenue direction. “We’ll form a pincer movement, like all the best armies do,” he said. “Right Dave, get a wriggle on.”

A few minutes later, Vinny had hooked up with Two-Mile and Charlie on Kincora Road, heading west. He was breathless with excitement. “What’s to report?” he asked.

“See up ahead,” whispered Charlie. “Your man there is wall-banging his way home. He nearly fell out of Shingles.”

“Now look across to the other side of the road, in the shadows. There’s a fellah there walking at a slighter quicker pace. He keeps looking across at yer man who is staggering. Do you think he’s Mr Mugger?”

For a bit the four men, walked along Kincora. About 100 yards in front was the reveler; across the road at 50 paces was a tall man of thin build.

Vinny wondered where the sidekick, Little Kicker, was hiding, probably in the bushes further along ready to pounce.

All at once, the picture changed. As the drunkard turned into his drive, his pursuer called out. “Hey, wait a minute,” and quickly crossed the road.

That was the cue for the Vinilantes to break cover. “Charge,” roared Vinny, as he led from the front.

Covering the ground like a rampaging Rhino, Vinny arrived on the scene first, just as the suspect reached out for the drunkard, holding something in his hand.

Without hesitating, Vinny swung his mashie niblick, catching the thin man hard across the back of his knees.

Crying out in agony
Instantly, he tumbled on to the pavement, crying out in agony. Within seconds, Vinny was astride his back, all 16 beefy stones of him. "Got you, ye louser. Vini, vidi, vici," he roared, pushing the man's head sideways into the concrete.

After a few seconds, Charlie spoke. “Let him up, Vinny. And when you do, you might say sorry.” Vinny was aghast. “What do you mean? We got him, didn’t we?”

As Big Dave helped the whimpering man to his feet, Vinny spotted an anchor motif on his jacket which made him freeze. Below the anchor were the words Shingles Pub, Clontarf. The chap they’d assailed was no more a mugger than Vinny. He was a barman, in Shingles. “A wallet was left behind tonight by one of our regulars,” he said pointing at the glassy-eyed chap leaning against a pillar.

“I was just about to give it back to him when you whacked me across the shins and sat on me, you big oaf,” he explained. “You’ll be hearing from my solicitor, and the guards,” he spluttered with indignation. With that, he dusted himself down and turned on his heel, leaving a dazed Vinny to pick up the pieces. “My God, what have I done,” he said softly.