‘They’re not real Garda, honestly!’

“It was a cold, wintry night, lost on the backroads of Monaghan in the mid-1990s. I had just finished giving a talk and had casually thrown the props used on the back seat of the car.

Michael Doorly with replica landmines, as used in education workshops as part of international campaign to ban landmines. Photo Joshua Mulholland/developmenteducation.ie, Feb 2020.

It was around 10pm when I set off for Dublin, it was before Google maps, so getting lost for me was de rigeur.

I was actually relieved when I first saw the Garda spot check up ahead, with blue lights flashing, thinking the Garda could direct me back to the main road.

It didn’t take long, the beam of his torch rested on the ‘landmines’ in the back. I was asked to get out of the car.

“They’re not real Garda, honestly”.

I told him about Jody Williams, about the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), about Angola, Mozambique and Cambodia, about the thousands of innocents maimed and injured long after the ‘war’ was over.

He told me to put them in the boot and sent me on my way.

I’ve wondered since, when the ICBL won the Nobel Prize in 1997, if that Garda remembered our little impromptu development education ‘workshop’ at the side of the road.”

Wooden replica landmines, on loan from the Active Citizenship archives in Concern Worldwide. Photo: Joshua Mulholland/developmenteducation.ie, Feb 2020.

Source: Concern Worldwide

Year: 1995

Format: Six wooden replica, anti-personnel (pressure and trip wire) and anti-tank landmines

Courtesy of Concern Worldwide; text by Michael Doorly