Cavan Garda to be awarded Scott Medal

Event in Dublin to be attended by Garda Commissioner and Minister.

The late Inspector Sam Donegan, who was stationed in Cavan when he died on duty when a booby-trap type bomb exploded is to be posthumously awarded a Scott Medal for bravery.

A native of Ballintampen, Ballymacormack, Co Longford, Inspt Scott died June 8, 1972.

He was leading an operation alongside members of the Irish Defence Forces who had received information that a suspect device had been identified near Legakelly.

Inspt Donegan approached the suspect device and was able to determine it was a hoax. However, a short distance away, a second similar device was also located and as Inspt Donegan approached to carry out an assessment, it exploded.

Inspt Donegan died a short time later from his injuries. The explosion also seriously injured young member of the Irish Army, Second Lieutenant John Gallagher.

A memorial to honour Inspt Donegan’s legacy was erected outside Cavan Garda Station in June last year, marking 50 years from the date he died.

On his behalf Inspt Donegan’s family will receive one of 11 Scott Medals to be awarded by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris at the planned ceremony at Walter Scott House, Military Road, Dublin 8 on Friday morning, May 26.

Inspt Scott, who joined An Garda Síochána on September 4, 1934, shortly before he turned 23, and spent time in counties Mayo and Sligo until 1967 when transferred to Cavan on promotion, will be only member on the day to have his service recognised with a gold medal.

In 1924 Colonel Walter Scott donated to An Garda Síochána a $1,000 gold bond, in perpetuity, to endow a bravery medal, the Walter Scott Medal, and included the dies from which all Scott medals would be struck.

The Scott Medal is the highest award that can be bestowed by the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána and is awarded for ‘most exceptional bravery and heroism involving the risk of life in the execution of duty’.

Minister for Justice, Simon Harris TD, will also be in attendance at the event.

Seven other members of An Garda Siochana will receive Silver Scott Medals.

Three more will receive Bronze Scott Medals, one posthumously.


Two of those will be presented to Sergeant PJ Gallagher and Garda Thomas McGuiness, who were on proactive anti-crime patrols in Co Sligo at Aughamore Far on October 7, 1983, when they came across a number of vehicles parked up in a rural layby late at night.

The two Gardaí were overpowered by a number of armed males and ordered at gunpoint to lie face down on the ground.

The members were bundled first into a van and then the boot of a car when they were driven towards Bawnboy, Co Cavan. From there, they were ordered into a second hijacked car and driven to Kilnaleck, Co Cavan where the car was abandoned.

The members successfully released themselves from the boot of the car and raised the alarm.

Tidey Kidnapping

The third Bronze medal will be awarded to the late Detective Garda Sergeant Daniel Kelleher who was shot and injured in both legs as he provided armed cover to other members escorting Don Tidey, a prominent businessperson abducted in Rathfarnham, Co Dublin, by armed members of the IRA outside Ballinamore, Co Leitrim, on December 16, 1983.

Mr Tidey was first kidnapped on November 24, by IRA men IRA posing as members of An Garda Síochána. Twenty three days later the investigation into his disappearance led gardaí to surrounding Drumcroman Wood, Derradda, on the outskirts of Ballinamore.

Members of An Garda Síochána supported by Irish Army personnel assigned to the 58th battalion, based in Finner Camp, Co Donegal, and together they managed to release Mr Tidey from the discovered IRA hideout.

During the course of the search Garda Gary Sheehan from Kingscourt Road, Carrickmacross, who was posthumously awarded the gold Scott medal for bravery in 2021, and Private Patrick Kelly from Westmeath, were shot, fatally wounded and died at the scene.

Despite active shooting, and in full knowledge of the potential danger, Det Gda Kelleher provided armed cover. He was injured himself when a car approached at high speed and a number of shots were discharged by the occupants.

Subsequently, three people were convicted relating to criminal charges arising from their involvement in the abduction of Mr. Tidey.