In each result, you will find an image of the original document and a transcript recording the vital information found in that document. The detail in each transcript can vary depending on the nature of the source. This collection includes pension registers, registers of deceased pensioners, pension rolls upon disbandment (1922), and registers of widows and children. The transcript will include a combination of the following details.
Name – this may be the name of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) pensioner, RIC member’s widow or in some cases, the name of the child of an RIC member if he/she was an orphan and received the pension.
Pension year – the year can either refer to superannuation year, the year the individual started to pay into his pension, or commencement year, the year the pension payments to the individual started.
Children’s names and birthdates
An image will reveal further information about your ancestor and add context to the details found in the transcript.
Pension per annum
Whether the person paid into the Constabulary Force Fund
This unique collection of Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) records comes from The National Archives in Kew, England. The collection consists of the records for pensions and allowances given to officers, men and staff of the RIC and their widows and children. In the records, you will find registers of pensions along with registers of deceased pensioners and pensions paid when the RIC was disbanded in August 1922. Many of the records show whether the individual paid into the Constabulary Force Fund. This fund, which was formerly called the Reward Fund, was used to reward RIC members monetarily after acts of achievement and/or bravery. For example, in July 1875, Constable John Daly was awarded £6 for gathering evidence by visiting infected houses and families. The evidence gathered was sufficient to arrest a swindler doctor.
The Irish Constabulary was created in 1836. Between 1916 and 1922, there were 549 casualties within the Royal Irish Constabulary. Of these casualties, 457 were caused by acts of political violence in Ireland. From 1916 to 1922, Ireland was engaged in a War of Independence, which started with the Easter Rising in 1916 and ended with the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1922. During the War of Independence, many RIC barracks and constables were targeted by militant nationalists.
The Acts of Union 1800 united the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland. From that time until Irish independence, government administration, including law and order, was controlled by the British parliament. Prior to 1836, Ireland had been policed by Chief Secretary of Ireland Robert Peel’s Peace Preservation Forces. The forces were created in 1814 and operated as four separate forces, one for each province. Then, the Irish Constabulary (Ireland) Act 1836 amalgamated the four forces into one Irish Constabulary (IC). The IC policed all of Ireland, except for Dublin, which was under the jurisdiction of the unarmed Dublin Metropolitan Police.
Initially, the act allowed for 313 chief constables and 5008 constables. Within two years, the Irish Constabulary grew to 7,500 members. At its height in 1850, it held 12,358 members. To assist with the training and recruitment of new constables, a training centre was erected at Phoenix Park in June 1842. The Phoenix Park Depot was located between the Zoological Gardens and the eastern gate. New recruits were trained there for six months. To become a member of the constabulary, one needed to be of good character, under the age of 40 and able to read and write. Many recruits came from large families living on tenant farms. In a large family, it was common that one child remained at the farm while the others emigrated, joined the priesthood or joined the Irish Constabulary. A job with the police was considered a career for life and it held opportunity for advancement.
The Irish Constabulary was responsible for keeping the peace in Ireland through the detection and prevention of crime and suppressing rebellions and agrarian disturbances. They enforced laws related to food, drugs and fishery and took over the duties of the Irish Revenue Police, which had previously enforced the laws against whiskey production. In areas that lacked a fire brigade, the police were called upon to stop the spread of fires.
The force held high standards of courtesy and civility. Internationally, it was considered the best police force in the world. The British Columbia Provincial Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were modelled after the Irish Constabulary’s organisational structure. The organisation was given the title ‘Royal’ in 1867 by Queen Victoria. This came after they were successful in suppressing a rebellion by the Irish Republican Brotherhood.
The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) barracks were usually located in areas of discontent. The RIC endured hostility from Nationalists and Irish Volunteers. Barracks were attacked by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during the War of Independence and hundreds were killed. The force had to redirect its focus on political activity during this time and daily police work was almost abandoned. Members of the RIC were described as, ‘agents of the British government’ by Eamon De Valera, the president of Dáil Éireann, the Irish assembly created in 1919. The years 1916 to 1922 were a horrific time for those within the RIC.
To compensate for the fall in numbers of policemen due to deaths, resignations and low recruitment, the government dispatched the Auxiliary Division and the Black and Tans. The members of these units were ex-servicemen and were sent to counter the guerrilla war campaign of the IRA. Their brutality caused unrest within the RIC. Some chose to resign rather than cooperate with the new forces. Many RIC members with nationalist sympathies resigned, such as Thomas McElligott, who created the ‘Resigned and Dismissed Members of the RIC and DMP’ to advocate for the interest of those who left or were dismissed from the RIC. These men would not be eligible for a pension.
The Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed on 6 December 1921 and ratified by Dáil Éireann in January 1922. The treaty ended the war and led to the establishment of the Irish Free State. In January 1922, it was agreed that the RIC was to be disbanded and a new force created. The new force, Garda Síochána, took in numbers of RIC members. The RIC was disbanded on 31 August 1922. The Paymaster General in London continued the payment of pensions and all records were sent to the Home Office. When the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was created in Northern Ireland in June 1922, 986 members of the RIC transferred to the new force.
Royal Irish Constabulary ranks in order of authority
Inspector-general (1 for the whole RIC)
Deputy inspector-general (2 in total)
Provincial inspectors (4 in total)
County inspectors (35, one for each county and two for Galway, Cork and Tipperary)
District inspectors (18 per county)
In the records, we can find Colonel Sir Neville Francis Fitzgerald Chamberlain. Chamberlain had a long career with the British Army before serving with the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC). He served with the 11th foot in the Second Anglo-Afghan War and became the Military Secretary of the Kashmir Government in 1890. He also served as the First-Aide-de-Camp for Lord Roberts in South Africa and received the Order of Bath. In 1900, he was appointed the Inspector-General of the Royal Irish Constabulary.
He served with the RIC during the time of the Easter Rising. Before the Rising, he had received intelligence that weapons were coming in from the south-west coast and a rising was being planned for Easter, but he was dubious of the source and did not act. Later the Hardinge commission, which investigated the events of the 1916 Rising, found that the RIC was not to blame. However, Chamberlain resigned because of criticisms of his handling of intelligence.
After retirement, Col. Chamberlain claimed that he created the game of snooker while stationed with the 11th Devonshire Regiment in Jabalpur, India in 1875. In the officer’s mess, he introduced coloured balls of different values to the game of black pool. The name snooker comes from a nickname for first-year cadets at the Royal Military Academy. While playing the new game, he called out, ‘You’re a real snooker’, when another player failed to pot a coloured ball and the name stuck.
The Ireland, Royal Irish Constabulary Pensions 1873-1925 holds the record of Thomas St George MacCarthy, one of the founders of the Gaelic Athletic Association. The collection also contains the record of his father, George MacCarthy, who was a county inspector with the Royal Irish Constabulary. Thomas MacCarthy entered the police force in 1882 and was a passionate athlete. He played for the Dublin University Football Club and the Limavady Football Club, when he was stationed there in 1889.
In 1884, Thomas MacCarthy was among a group of men at Hayes Hotel in Thurles, County Tipperary, which formed an association, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), to preserve, revive and promote nationally the growth of Gaelic games, such as Gaelic football, hurling, camogie and handball. This new association was a part of the Gaelic revival in Ireland, a time when Gaelic culture, language and sports were being promoted and celebrated. Today, the GAA is Ireland’s largest sporting organisation.