Preserving the Peace

An exhibition exploring policing in Ireland since the early 19th century.

The Peace Preservation Act of 1814 allowed for the creation of the Peace Preservation Force which is seen by many as the precursor to the establishment of the Irish Constabulary and of the modern police services on the island of Ireland. To mark this bicentenary, the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life has opened an exhibition dedicated to Irish policing. The exhibition will run until 24 May, 2015.

Preserving the Peace focuses on organised policing over two hundred years on the island, exploring the degree to which standard policing has metamorphosed or remained static against the backdrop of British and Irish rule.

The exhibition - encompassing three gallery floors at Turlough Park, Castlebar - samples the nature of crimes which confronted the forces from the nineteenth century up to the present day and also features an intriguing section depicting state punishment of the guilty in Victorian Ireland.

From the initial crime to capture and punishment, both corporal and capital – Preserving the Peace opens a door onto the sometimes uncomfortable reality of Ireland’s official past.

Public Programme

There is a full public programme of events running for the duration of the exhibition including engaging and imaginative activities for all the family and pre and post-visit interactive resources for schools.

14 June 2014, 2-3pm: Guided Tour: Walk the Beat.

The Inside view from the exhibition’s curator Noel Campbell.

17 July 2014, 2-3pm: Guided Tour: Walk the Beat.

The Inside view from the exhibition’s curator Noel Campbell.

13 Sept 2014, 3-4pm: Talk: Maamtrasna Murders and their Aftermath

With Ronnie O’Gorman.

18 Oct 2014, 3-4pm: Talk: The Hang House Stories

Mountjoy Past and Present with Séan Reynolds.

15 Nov 2014, 3-4pm: Talk: Pre-Policing Ireland: A Military State

With National Museum of Ireland - Collins Barracks, Art and Industry curator Lar Joye.

6 Dec 2014, 3-4pm: Film / Scannán: Déantús an Phoitín le Mac Dara Ó Curraidhin a stiúraigh.

Highlights of an illicit old Irish craft.

16 Jan 2015, 7pm: Interactive Discussion: History Ireland’s Hedge School: 200 Years of Policing.

Get the alternative views of Irish history with this mixture of an expert panel and active audience participation which makes for a lively, entertaining and informative event. Not to be missed!


19 Jan 2015, 2pm: Tour: Preserving the Peace: Horrid History!

Learn about the darker side of policing long ago with exhibition curator Noel Campbell. Hear tales of the hangman and what it really meant to ‘let the cat out of the bag’. Booking required.

27 Feb 2015, 7pm: ‘Women in Policing’ – A talk by Garda Commissioner, Noirín O’Sullivan

The National Museum of Ireland-Country Life is delighted to welcome back Garda Commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan to deliver her talk ‘Women in Policing’. Booking essential.

27 Mar 2015, 7pm: A Brief History of Forensic Science

Join Dr. John O’Shaughnessy of Forensic Science Ireland for an illustrated talk on the history of forensic science, from its original inception and difficult early years to its emergence as the back-bone of many of today’s criminal investigations. Booking required.

25 Apr 2015, 2.30-3.30pm: Bandits, Robbers & Revolutionaries

Join historian Dr Conor McNamara as he delves into the darker side of Ireland’s social history. Discover how political and social movements were exploited for the purpose of banditry, taking advantage in the breakdown of law and order to commit acts of criminal violence. Booking required.

9 May 2015, 2.30-4pm: Tracing Your Police Ancestors

Join Jim Herlihy, Irish police historian, to learn how to use the police archives of the RIC, An Garda Síochána and the PSNI amongst others to trace your ancestors. Bring along any police memorabilia you have to see what history it holds. Booking required.

Further Information and Booking

Booking advisable, these events will fill out quickly.

For more information or to make a booking, contact the Bookings Office on +353 (0)94 9031751 or email

Exhibition Sponsors

Police Emerald Society GBCrest
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