The story of the first Garda killed after Ireland became indepenent will feature in a local radio documentary to be broadcast next week.
The revealing two part documentary entitled ‘A Boy of Good Character: The Story of Garda Henry Phelan’ was produced, presented and researched by Tipp Today producer Tom Hurley and was made with the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and Tipp FM.
Part one is due to be aired on Tipp FM radio on Sunday next, May 20 at 6.30pm with part two the following week.
The docmentary tells the story of Henry Phelan, who on the afternoon of November 14, 1922 became the first member of the new Civic Guard (later renamed An Garda Síochána) to be killed when he was shot in a quiet pub in Mullianahone Co Tipperary.
He died tragically while on a simple errand to get a hurling ball for a team he was starting, where he was stationed in Callan.
He was twenty-one years of age at the time but the circumstances behind his killing and the identities of those involved have never been clear.
Today, almost 90 years later, very little is actually known about Henry’s background and his death is a subject that many in the Mullinahone and Callan areas are still very slow to talk about.
The new documentary, however, due to be aired next weekend has looked into the Laois native’s life both before and after he joined the force and also examines some of the theories concerning why he may have been targeted.
Born on Christmas Day in 1900 Henry Phelan got his early education at Paddock NS.
According to current principal Sean Mullaney who managed to dig up records from the time, “his attendance was a mixture.”
In the early days he seemed to miss a lot of days but then later on his attendance was pretty ok.”
Castletown historian Mike Rafter reveals that he was in the Mountrath Volunteers during the War of Independence after coming across a statement from a comrade testifying to this.