Samuel Abraham Walker Waters (1846-1936), Assistant Inspector General of The Royal Irish Constabulary, retired from Editorship of The Royal Irish Constabulary Magazine in October, 1912.

From my boyhood I have been an ardent admirer of the noble game of cricket, and in whatever district my lot as an RIC officer was cast, I have tried to keep it going. My first effort was as far back as the year 1866, when I joined my first station in the in the village of Grange, Co. Sligo. I got a set of bats, stumps and balls, and hired a swampy little field as a practice ground.

Four or five of the younger men at the station took a real interest in the game, others came to look on, and occasionally took hold of a bat or a ball. We mowed away the rushes, beat the ground level as might be with the back of a spade (roller we had none), and thus got a sort of pitch where, on idle evenings, we bowled at each other with more or success.

My mounted orderly, a young man named Kelly, became our best bowler. He had a way of sending in a tremendously fast underhand grub, which came popping along the rough ground from bump to bump till it reached the batsman. It was extremely difficult to judge precisely where the ball might be when it reached the wicket. Sometimes it bobbed to the right, sometimes to the left, sometimes shot in along the ground, more often jumped up into the batsman's face. It was an exciting affair in dry weather standing up to Kelly's grubs. Most of us fairly funked them, and let them have their wicked way if at all straight.

My Head Constable, a fine specimen of the old-fashioned policeman, was a keen supporter of the game. He insisted on bowling round arm under my instructions. With a whirling movement of the right arm he launched the ball into space. Sometimes it went yards over the striker's head, sometimes it took the ground a few feet from the bowling crease. Occasionally it flew wildly away to square leg. More often it took a good shot for cover point. If one ball out of twenty was nearly on the wicket the Head was mighty proud.

There were three or four young people in the neighbourhood who had learned some cricket at school. With their help, and after some practice on our remarkable practice pitch, I formed an eleven, and challenged a military detachment then stationed in Sligo to a match on a level common which existed near Grange.

We got the loan of a farmer's roller, and prepared quite a good crease, and the eventful day arrived, and with it the team from Sligo, The country people assembled in their hundreds, much interested in their first experience of cricket. I won the toss, and we went in to be disposed of by a powerful Tommy, who bowled us out in a steady procession-I have not the exact score, but I believe it total-led up to about 30. All our hopes lay with our champion bowler, Kelly, and well did he support us. Taking a run of some thirty yards each time, he launched the ball with a terrific swing along the ground.

Co Kerry RIC v  Military of Tralee, Tralee 1896Co Kerry RIC v Military of Tralee, Tralee 1896

The first man who stood up to it got a clip on the left elbow which put him out of action forthwith. A stout old Sergeant-Major was dismissed doubled up with a ball in the abdomen. Next man opening up boldly to a straight one was caught on the point of the chin, and was knocked out as clean as ever did the best of our RIC boxers in the riding school. I was bowling slow overhand lobs from the other end, and my sound old Head Constable was umpire. I got a fairly straight one in and the batsman took it on his leg. "How's that?" asked I. " Out," replied the Head, and the soldier retired grumbling. Next over, I got another doubtful one, and again the Head manfully said, " Out."

A little later I got a third chance, and a real sound one this time. " How's that ?" I asked with absolute confidence . The Head hesitated a moment, and then said in a determined tone, "Not out." Leaning over to me, he whispered, " Begorra, I hadn't the face, sir, to do it the third time!" We got them out one way or the other for a little more than our own score. I must mention that this was in the height of the Fenian agitation, and every man, woman and child round Grange were in deep sympathy with the conspiracy. In fact, I afterwards discovered that two young country fellows, who played in my team, were centres of Fenian circles.

After the first innings we had luncheon. The day was hot, the drink was plenty, and I regret to say, the Tommies took all they could get, and went out to field in a decidedly exhilarated condition. We, being also fairly stimulated, hammered away at everything that came within reach, and most of the balls were hit somehow or other Catches were missed, balls fumbled, over shies of common occurrence, byes run for every ball that passed the wicket keeper, and they were many, so that, in the end, we accumulated quite a big score, got the soldiers out cheap, and so won our first match amidst the utmost popular enthusiasm.

The Grange Constabulary Cricket Club held together for three years I was left in that charming village. I don't suppose a cricket bat or ball has been seen there since I left it.

Many a pleasant outing we had in summer to Bundoran, where cheery matches were played on the ground now taken up for golf. These were the days of youth, when everything was fresh; and though I have played much cricket since then in higher class company, and on more perfect pitches, I can honestly aver I have never enjoyed the game more than when captaining my rough and ready performers of the Grange Constabulary C.C.

I will skip a year or two and come on to 1871, when, in Cookstown, in Tyrone, I again played cricket in company with some of my RIC comrades. We had no RIC club, but there was a town club and a fair ground on which I could practice, and any of the men who cared to do so. As a rule, we joined hands with a roving team collected around Dungannon by an enthusiastic local young gentleman named Disney. They were called the " Killyman Rangers," and they were no bad side, including such well-known men of the North of these old days as Rowley Miller and Averil Lloyd, both, like myself, still alive and going strong. My good old friend Lloyd rejoices in a son who is a real chip off the old block, and stands up well for Ireland both in football and cricket. He does credit to the family taste for games, and to training he got at home at Portora.

I skip a period which, so far as cricket is concerned, was void of interest, and I get to the year 1878, when, in Enniskillen, I played many pleasant games both with the County Club and with the boys at Portora. My next effort at an RIC team was made in Castlepollard, where, from 1870 until the bad times of the eighties, stopped all chance of sport for me, I had a local eleven, composed largely of the men at the station. We played many matches on a rather rough field near the town, and away from home in the Co, Meath, and at Mullingar. Athboy was within our circuit, and we had severe rivalry with Athboy Club, but they were generally too strong for us.

It was while stationed at Castlepollard that i tried to get up an eleven of RIC officers from Westmeath and surrounding counties to play a match in Mullingar against a regiment then stationed there. I had promises of the full team, but when I arrived in Mullingar on the morning of the match i found but seven had turned up. The assizes were coming on at the time, and by good luck I met a cricketing friend, Mr. Richard Manders, then a young barrister on circuit. I asked him if he had any qualification to play for the RIC, and he informed me that he had been sworn in as a Special Constable during some riots in Dublin. This was quite enough, so I enrolled him Constable Manders, and, with three recruits from the barracks, the RIC eleven took the field. Constable Manders went in first and carried out his bat for 110! Of course we won our match.

I fear my pen is running away with me, and I have little space to refer to very many other pleasant cricketing adventures. How often I have batted, fielded, and lain out on the grass in our nice ground in Phoenix Park while the RIC eleven fought its battles in old times with varying success. These were the days when the doughty Constable Tom Ryan hammered in the most marvellous balls, and either scattered the wickets of our opponents, or did corporal damage to their eyes and limbs. Ryan was really a terror in his best days, and some of the finest bats in Ireland fell victims to his energy and skill. Our present Deputy Inspector-General faced me many a time at the wickets when runs were badly wanted. He had a knack of keeping his wicket up at a critical time, and sneaking a lot of useful runs to the serious annoyance of the other side.

County Inspector Mulliner was a pretty bat, and County Inspector Chatterton a most valuable all-round man, with a great command of the ball and tremendous pace. Let me not forget to recall one of the cheeriest, keenest, the most delightful of old cricket companions-companion indeed in many other games and sports as well-dear old " Chippy " Verrall-who that knew him in the Force whether as a brother officer, or a superior, ever comrade and friend to those who served under him-can resist shedding a tear even now over his early grave.

It was in Kerry, however, that I had my best time at RIC cricket. The Sports'Field at Tralee offered an admirable ground practically ready for play, though it suffered a good deal in winter from Gaelic athletic hurling and football matches. I started an RIC Cricket Club, and an existing County Cricket Club was revived. There was always cricket at the military barracks, as the Depot of Royal Munster Fusiliers was established there, with detachments from whatever regiment was quartered at Buttevant. Thus we had three clubs in Tralee, and for six summers from 1892 to 1898, the game went merrily on. There was a club in Killarney, and a team was generally available during the summer months in Glenbeigh, where that well-known cricketer, D.Q. Steel,was then residing. Thus we had lots of matches within the county, and occasionally we journeyed to Cork, Limerick, and Buttevant with more or less success.

Of the Kerry RIC players, I had amongst the officers District Inspector M.O'B White, toughest of wicket keepers. If he could not stop the ball with his hands, he got some part of his person in front of it, and rarely indeed did one get past. Many a hard knock he got, but nothing daunted him. District Inspector J.P.O'Shee was a lively hitter, and his innings was always pleasant to watch. Mr. J. Hughes, C.I., then D.I. at Listowel, was a stubborn bat, and D.I. Hume R.Jones was a tower of strength to the team. On one memorable occasion he knocked up a full century on the Tralee ground. Sergeant Matt. Hogan, now a retired Head Constable, was our most efficient Hon. Secretary, and well did he carry out the duties. Constable T. Whelan, of Killarney, was a fine bowler, a most useful bat, and very safe in the field. Constable Manning, Constable Reilly, Constable Finnegan and Acting-Sergeant Brosnan were always ready, and helped well to win many a hard fought game. My son-in-law, Colonel, then Captain, Edgeworth Johnstone, was a frequent visitor ; and, as an honorary member of the club, gave us many an exhibition of real hard hitting. I remember one occasion, when practising in the in the military barracks, he was challenged to break a window with a clean hit ball from a wicket in the centre of the square. With a soldier bowling at him, he broke six panes of glass in the officers' mess before he was stopped, as the amusement was getting too costly.

I have hung up in front of me as I write now a precious old bat well whipped over with waxed string, and ornamented with a silver shield, which was presented to me by the Co. Kerry RIC Cricket Club. It is one of my most treasured relics.

I am delighted to see that cricket is still kept going at the Depot. The club is doing A1 this season, though the weather is dead against every game. I am promised a promised a contribution giving some details of late cricket on the RIC ground. I can only chatter in the old man's fashion of days gone by in the hope that some of the veterans, and perhaps even some of the youngsters, may be interested.