The Irish (Constabulary (Ireland)) Act 1836 brought a single, unified force into being. Power to appoint and discharge members of the force, to make rules and to fix salaries was vested in the lord lieutenant of Ireland.
The Irish Constabulary thus created was responsible for the peace of the whole country with the exception of Dublin which retained its own police, the Dublin Metropolitan Police, formed in 1786.
In September 1867, the Constabulary was renamed the Royal Irish Constabulary. The duties of the Constabulary were gradually extended. At first it was solely concerned with keeping the peace, a duty which could entail the suppression of armed rebellion, sectarian riots or agrarian disturbances; later it inherited the functions of the Revenue Police, made inquiries on behalf of departments of state, collected agricultural statistics, enforced the fishery laws and performed a variety of duties under the laws relating to food and drugs, weights and measures, explosives and petroleum. Members of the force also acted as enumerators at the censuses of population.
The Royal Irish Constabulary was disbanded on 30 August 1922. Pensions continued to be paid by the paymaster general in London, and the service records of members of the force passed to the Home Office.
The prime source is the class Royal Irish Constabulary Records (HO 184). The records are entered in registers arranged numerically by service number; there are separate, alphabetical indexes from which the service number can be obtained.
Separate registers, with integral indexes, were compiled for officers and for members of the auxiliary forces. The registers normally give:
The name of a wife is not given, nor any information about parents. The reference numbers quoted in these records refer to papers which have not survived.
Pensions and allowances granted to officers, men and staff, and to their widows and children, are recorded in the class Royal Irish Constabulary Pensions etc (PMG 48).
Entries in these registers are arranged either alphabetically in order of surname or by pension award number, and normally include the place of residence of the recipient. Pensions paid to dependants, commissioned officers and office staff are sometimes entered separately from those for members of the force. The class also contains registers of deceased pensioners for the period 1877-1918, and rolls of pensions awarded on the disbandment of the force. Files on pension options at disbandment are arranged county by county in Ireland: Dublin Castle Records (CO 904) pieces 175 and 176. In some cases these provide addresses and information about service. Lists of officers recommended for pensions when the Constabulary was disbanded, arranged by districts with separate series for British and Irish recruits, are in HO 184 pieces 129-209; in most cases the information in these lists was entered into the general registers of service in this class.
A list of superannuations awarded to police in Ireland before the unified force was created was published in 1832 in House of Commons Sessional Papers 1831-1832, XXVI 465. The list gives: