Inspector Mallon

Buying Irish Patriotism for a Five-Pound Note

By Donal P. McCracken

This is the biography of the famous Irish detective and security policeman, John Mallon (1839-1915). He was a farm boy from republican south Armagh who rose to become Ireland's most famous detective and most feared secret policeman, the first Catholic to rise as high as assistant commissioner of the Dublin Metropolitan Police. For decades, Inspector Mallon and the detective G men at Dublin Castle hounded the Irish Fenian revolutionaries. Walking daily through the cobbled streets of Dublin - chatting with the gentry or greengrocers, holing up in seedy smoky bars in the Liberties and Temple Bar, or leading his men on night raids - this bear of a man came to know Victorian Dubliners as few others did. Always courteous and never violent in his own methods, his policing philosophy was one of deterrent and intimidation rather than entrapment. Generally contemptuous of his enemy, Mallon maintained an extensive network of poorly paid informers. He is notorious for having said, 'A good deal of that kind of patriotism can be bought for a five pound note in this poor country'. Often described as catlike for his cunning, and backed by only 30 G men, for a generation Inspector Mallon kept a lid on the Irish revolution in Dublin, gaining the respect of moderate nationalists and unionist alike, but also the fear of most republicans. It is not surprising that he was the subject of numerous assassination plots. He is most noted for bringing to the gallows the Invincibles, the members of the 'murder society' who carried out the Phoenix Park assassinations. Lieutenant Spencer, the head of the British government in Ireland, once commented, 'Without Mallon we have no one worth a row of pins'.

248 pages

Publication Date: 6/15/2009
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9780716529934