Liddy Medal awarded to retired
WHEN retired Garda Richard
Crowley looks out the window of his seafront home in
Buncrana it seems a million miles from the frightening
day he nearly died after his motorbike was rammed by a
The 46-year old was recently awarded the Liddy Medal in recognition of his sacrifice that day 14 years ago, that left him with diminished eyesight and cost him his job with the Garda special escort motorcycle unit in Dublin.
Speaking publicly for the first time about the horrific incident, he explains:
"It was January 8,1994 and we had completed a presidential escort after bringing President Mary Robinson to an event in the National Concert Hall.
"At around 9.45pm I was
sitting on a flyover on the Blanchardstown Road when I
saw a car on the dual carriageway travelling at what I
estimated to be about 130mph. It was city bound and I
immediately gave pursuit.
"Using every ounce of power in my motorcycle I managed to close the gap between us, just a bit. They obviously spotted me, as the car began to slow a little. I got close enough to read the registration number and called it in.
“The driver then pulled off the carriageway onto the old Mulhuddard Road. The car was now being driven normally and dispatch control had not come back with any alerts, so I wrongly assumed it was safe to approach.”
What he didn’t know was that due to his earlier presidential engagement, he had missed an alert about four armed men acting suspiciously in a stolen vehicle.
He remembers little of what followed and most of his recollection has been pieced together from the investigation. "Obviously I pulled the car over. The policy back then was to stop in front of the vehicle but that changed after this incident.
"It appears I pulled in front of the car, and as I did, the driver drove at me. There is evidence to show I tried unsuccessfully to drive away.
I remember that my bike
wasn’t running well and this may well have hindered my
escape. I'm told that when I was discovered, my
motorcycle was lying on top of me.”
As he came round in hospital the next day, it transpired he had lain on the road unconscious for more than half-an-hour. His dispatch colleagues assumed he had finished his shift at 10pm and gone home. He was discovered by a porter from Blanchardstown Hospital who raised the alarm.
"When I woke up, I wished I hadn’t. My pelvis was chipped, my left shoulder dislocated, there were numerous small injuries and I was bruised all over, but by far the most painful part of me was my head, it felt like a football that had just gone through a World Cup final.
"I was wearing a helmet but
a large gash had been torn out of it, when my head hit
the kerb. Physically I was a wreck but mentally I was
extremely happy to be alive.
"The greatest blow was that my eyesight diminished to the point where I could no longer drive. When I got out of hospital I was only able to hobble about 50 yards. Over the next few years I built this up to six miles daily,” he says, adding that he soon realised his Garda career was over. "I knew when my eyesight went that I would be put out to pasture and they retired me on June 22, 1996.
This was difficult to accept and his “world fell apart”. With his Garda career over, Richard, his wife Mary and their only daughter Laura, now 19, needed a fresh start. Both had connections in Donegal - Richard's mother was from Kilmacrennan while Mary hails from Urris –
so Inishowen seemed an
They later bought a beautiful Victorian villa on Aileach Road, Buncrana, due to its proximity to the local swimming pool, coastal walks and town centre. It was during his swimming sessions that Richard heard about the Inishowen Sub Aqua Club. “Willie Monaghan is lifeguard at the swimming pool and was the club's diving officer. He persuaded me to become a diver.”
While nobody was ever caught for the incident due to the time lapse in discovering him, it’s alleged the culprits were a loyalist gang from the North. Investigators believe the same gang may have been involved in an attempt to bomb a pub in Dublin some time later, during which a doorman was shot.
Fourteen years on, Richard credits his family and colleagues at Inishowen Sub Aqua Club for helping him on the road to recovery. When fit he scuba dives frequently and also loves writing and restoring classic cars. He is the eleventh recipient of a Liddy Medal, the awards having only been introduced by the Garda Siochana Retired Members’ Association in 2005. He's clearly proud of the award and says it has helped him with the process of closure. "I guess I can finally lay this to rest now - another chapter in life closes."
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