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Mass For Thurles Hero Killed In Arson Incident

A CallananA Thurles Garda who died in an arson attack on a Garda station has been hailed as “one of the finest to ever wear the Garda Force’s uniform”.

Garda Sgt. Andrew Callanan, aged 36 and pictured here, will be remembered in a special Mass tomorrow on the 10th anniversary of his death. The special Mass will be celebrated by the Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin Eamonn Walsh DD in St Mary’s Dominican Priory, Tallaght, Co.Dublin.

Andrew was born in Thurles, Co Tipperary in 1963 and  joined the Garda Siochana in 1982. He was on active duty in Tallaght Garda Station on the morning of July 21st, 1999, when a man walked into the station, at approximately 4.45am. Placing a plastic can of petrol on the reception counter he then slashed the container with a knife. Lighting a Japanese  flare he held, he told an officer who had entered the room: “You have two minutes to evacuate the building.”  Sgt Callanan sprayed the man with a fire extinguisher in a bid to save the perpetrators life. However the flare dropped to the ground causing an explosion. A door to the room was blasted shut by the explosion, locking itself and trapping Sgt Callanan.

Sgt Callanan later died of his injuries at Tallaght Hospital, Dublin and was buried with full State Honours.
Then acting Garda chaplain, Fr Ralph Egan, would later inform the congregation at Sgt Callanan’s funeral that the perpetrator of this act, had himself admitted that his life had been saved by the sergeant’s act of bravery.

The perpetrator was later jailed for 15 years for arson.

Sgt Callanan, who left a wife, Yvonne and three children, was later posthumously awarded the Scott Medal for exceptional valor.

Republic Of Ireland Has No National Honours System

Unlike most other countries the Republic of Ireland has no national honours system. Awards, orders of merit or chivalry were considered to be “Monarchist” or “Imperialist”.  However General Owen O’Duffy, the first Garda Commissioner, did not seek the permission of the then Irish Government. The “Scott Medal for Valor” is not a State award, its award is entirely the gift of the Commissioner. The only involvement by the Irish Government is the formal presentation of the medal by the Minister for Justice. The medal is awarded only for “most exceptional bravery and heroism“.

Garda Sgt. Andrew Callanan was the 31st member of the Gardaí killed in the performance of his duties and while on active service.

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