Home / Country Life / Exhibitions / Previous Exhibitions / Preserving the Peace

Preserving the Peace

An exhibition exploring policing in Ireland from 1814 up until the present day..

Temporary Exhibition Temporary Exhibition Now Closed

Objects Profiles Still Available Online

21 objects from this exhibition are available from our historical collections online.

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.

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.

This exhibition closed in April 2015 after a successful year. For queries regarding the borrowing of Preserving the Peace, please contact Noel Campbell at ncampbell@museum.ie.

Public Programme

There was 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.


Exhibition Sponsors

Police emerald societyPolice federation for Northern Ireland

Early Garda Recruit

Early Garda Recruit

With the Irish Free State secured volunteers turned their attention to filling the ranks of the new Irish police force

The Watch System

The Watch System

Prior to the emergence of organised police forces in the nineteenth century, some Irish towns were policed by watchmen.

The Palmerstown Murder Execution

The Palmerstown Murder Execution

On the morning of Saturday 10 June 1865, 40 year old farm labourer Patrick Kilkenny arrived at the police station at Beresford Place...

Irish Revenue Police

Irish Revenue Police

The Revenue Police patrolled in bands of twenty to thirty men. It was not unusual for them to come under fire.

19th Century Faction Fighting

19th Century Faction Fighting

The 18th and 19th century Irish phenomenon known as the faction fight was essentially a mass brawl that involved hundreds and sometimes thousands of antagonists...

Learning Resources for Teachers

Learning Resources for Teachers

The resources are in the form of a booklet and will support the teaching of this topic at Primary and Post-Primary levels.

Exhibition Panels

Exhibition Panels

Download the 11 information panels from the exhibition.

Hedge School Audioguide

Hedge School Audioguide

Recording of the History Ireland Hedge School titled ‘Irish Policing 1814-2014