The establishment of the force was around 10,000 and covered the entire 32 counties of Ireland with its headquarters in Dublin. Like the army, it was organised around a system of officers, NCO's and other ranks; with the rank of District Inspector being the lowest officer rank. Officers carried swords on parade and inspection. The swords were purchased privately from military outfitters (John Ireland being perhaps the most popular) but were also commonly purchased from retiring officers or handed down from father to son. Thus it could be that an early Constabulary of Ireland sword would be worn right through to 1922 and indeed, in some cases, then worn in the newly formed Royal Ulster Constabulary.
A copy of RIC regulations for 1913 reveals the following:
Sword - Steel mounted; half basket hilt, with the crown and harp pierced in the guard; blade perfectly straight, 32 and one half inches in length, and 1 and one eighth inches in width at the shoulder, gradually decreasing to seven eighths of one inch, till rounded off to the point at 3 inches from same, which is spear shaped; blade embossed on right side with the harp and garter of R.I.C., surmounted by crown, and on the other side with the King's cypher; scabbard of steel.
Sword-Belt - waist-belt of web, 2 inches wide, with snake-hook fastening. Adjustable buckle of nickel plate on short carriage, long carriage fixed to back of belt. Black patent seal skin slings, 1 and one quarter inches wide, with nickel plated mounting. Sword slings to fasten to sword with studs and billets of plain black leather.
Sword Knot - Black plaited leather cord, with acorn, covered with leather, also plaited.
Although these regulations for 1913 are very specific we can see a variation in patterns over the years. Most usually it is the 1845 Infantry Pattern hilt but some early examples used the Royal Artillery pattern, and at least one Inspector-General carried the Mameluke style sabre.
Both unfullered and fullered blade examples exist, though the unfullered patterns appear to be more common.
Occasionally presentation swords surface; most often presented by local dignitaries to officers of the Constabulary for services rendered.
The Mounted section of the RIC carried a cavalry pattern sword, and the constables carried the bayonet (also termed a sword, as the force adopted the Rifle Regiment ethos and terminology).
An officer of the RIC in full dress, with sword.
This photo was taken outside the Officers Mess, Phoenix Park Depot, Dublin. The old RIC Depot is now the headquarters of the Garda Siochana.
Royal Irish Constabulary Sword
An example of an RIC sword, the hilt showing the harp and crown motif. The RIC crest is present on the blade. The maker is John Ireland.
Waist Belt Clasp
Attached is an example of a pattern of sword belt buckle used by RIC officers, worn outside of the uniform. This one is plated silver, design dated 2 Jan 1868.