Eugene Drumm was born in London to parents from County Longford. His family returned to live in Longford Town when Eugene was 12 years old in 1967. His interest in community work stemmed from his childhood where he was involved in a local GAA club and through this he got to know some of the club members who were also members of the Gardaí. Even at this stage Eugene recognised the value of Garda members getting involved in local communities and having a relation on his father’s side a member of the force there was always an understanding of this important role in the community. After leaving school Eugene trained in auto electrical work, and later electronics, where he secured good employment, but he always felt drawn to the Gardaí. He made application to join the Force in the mid-seventies when a recruitment drive for new members began. He then took part in the selection process, was successful, and subsequently joined the force on the 28th of December 1977.
Eugene became part of a group of 52 male Garda trainees in the Garda Training Centre in Templemore, Co. Tippperary. Training demanded a strong work ethic and it included challenging class work, and physical training exercises, with few weekends off. Despite this there was great camaraderie among colleagues in the centre and evenings were spent getting involved in football and athletics groups sparking an interest which resulted in a lifetime’s involvement in athletics. Once all exams and assessments were passed the day came when officers would be given their posts and at that time all trainees were sent either to Dublin or the Border regions which were demanding posts. Trainees were advised that on leaving the Training Centre they would be meeting people making many different types of reports, and having various problems, and that it was important to take appropriate action. It was explained to the young Gardai that this may in some cases taking a written statement of complaint and in others involve referral to another agency. They were also advised to get to know their area and to involve themselves in some activity in the community.
Eugene had his passing out parade, at which family and friends attended, on the 1st June 1978. He was assigned to Ballyshannon Garda Station where he took the advice he had received on board. He was involved in border duties and there were many young Gardai there at the time who worked alongside senior colleagues and one of these senior Gardai emphasised how important it was to acquire a good knowledge of the area. As a result of this Eugene became involved in the local athletics club training and this was the start of his involvement in the local community. Not only did Eugene start his Garda career in Ballyshannon but he also met his future wife, Geraldine whom he married in 1983 and who was to become a great supporter of his work and the many roles he held in the community. While on temporary duty in Bundoran Garda Station Eugene met the late Garda Michael Lawless who was later to have a great influence on him in relation to working to improve the conditions of Garda in the border regions. Through his work and his friendship with Garda Lawless Eugene eventually became a representative for the Garda and advocated on behalf of members of the force for better conditions.
In May of 1979 Eugene was transferred to Carrick in Co Donegal and afterwards spent a brief period in Glenties. Carrick was a small station in the west of Donegal and brought a whole new element to the role of the Garda in rural communities. He was welcomed by the local Sergeant, the late Frank O’Donnell, and Garda Joe Bradley, now retired who still lives in the area. This he found to be a great experience and another learning curve in terms of community policing. He found people to be very friendly and trusting and there was always great hospitality and local produce in all the homes. When carrying out patrols Eugene noticed the great beauty of this area, which includes the now very well-known Slieve League. Glenties was the headquarters for Carrick and Gardai from there would call frequently, giving Eugene the opportunity to get to know a lot of the Glenties members so it was no shock that he was eventually posted to Glenties in April 1980 for two months. Although this was a larger station Eugene found that the local Gardai there were very much part of the local community and he went on to develop lifetime friendships with the locals.
Eugene’s next transfer was in June 1980 to Lifford where he carried out border duties which was a big change from his work in Carrick and Glenties. While in Lifford an opportunity presented itself when Eugene was asked to call to the local national school to give road safety talks and there he met the teacher Dolores O’Kelly. She later asked him to arrange talks on drugs and alcohol in the general community as this was an ongoing problem at the time. At one of these meetings there was a request for a youth club to be formed and with the help of the Donegal Youth Service in Letterkenny a committee was formed and a youth club was set up. A local female Garda Ann Dorrian jointly organised with Eugene a youth exchange programme between the new youth club and a youth club she was involved with in her home town in Co. Louth thus cementing the work already done. Eugene also got involved in training for a marathon with a group of Lifford athletes and then got to know the late Ben O’Donnell, a coach and official of Lifford A.C. He took part in marathons, and on setting up home with his wife Geraldine Killygordon in 1983 he continued his athletics involvement by joining the Finn Valley Athletic Club. He later became a committee member and volunteer in Finn Valley A.C which he continues to do up to the present day. The involvement Eugene had with groups in Lifford enabled him to form many links in the wider community.
In September 1987 Eugene was posted to Ballybofey after he successfully applied for a position there. He had already got to know a number of Ballybofey Gardai whilst working in Lifford, including the late Garda John Clarke, who was involved in a number of community groups. Garda Clarke, and other members, were a source of inspiration to Eugene in acquiring a good knowledge of his area and getting involved in local organisations. Eugene, in the course of his duties, took part in car and foot patrols getting to know the area, and later he worked mainly in the Public Office and Sergeant’s Office of the station. In the course of his work he often called on colleagues, who were always obliging, to follow up on queries and tasks that came to him through his community work and in general day to day duties. In the course of his work Eugene was given great support from his colleagues and staff in Ballybofey Garda Station, the surrounding stations, and the Garda and staff in Letterkenny Garda Station. For a number of years after he came to Ballybofey Station Sergeant Peter McBride was his Sergeant-in-Charge, and he was also involved in the local John Paul Youth Club (now Planet Youth). When Sergeant McBride later went on transfer Eugene decided to take up the mantle and continue the Garda involvement in the youth club, and in total he worked with this club for 20 years before standing down in October 2013.
Eugene also got involved in a number of community organisations as a volunteer, and in other cases as a Garda representative, including the Stranorlar Schools Completion Programme, the LEAF Project, Twin Towns Community Platform, and more recently the Finn Valley Together group. He acknowledges the assistance and support given to him in these organisations by the workers, committees and juvenile liaison officers. Over the years he also gave many talks in the local schools on a number of relevant subjects and would like to acknowledge the support given to him by the principals’, teachers and staff. He feels he could not have achieved what he did in the community without the ongoing support of many people both within the Gardaí and the wider community and he stresses that it was a privilege to serve as a Garda in the Donegal Division for the past 37 and a half years and would like on his retirement to continue his involvement in the community.
Eugene officially retired from the force on the 24th of May 2015 and his work was acknowledged initially at an informal function held that day in the Garda Station, and subsequently at the formal retirement function in Jacksons Hotel on the 5th of June. Eugene is wished the very best from all in this community in which he gave great service and we are sure that many groups in the area will continue to benefit from his knowledge and experience in the future. We are delighted to have Eugene as our community hero for this month and wish himself and Geraldine well for the future.
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