Foley, Gerald Robert Edward (1886–1982), soldier and policeman, was born 10 May 1886 at the rectory, Askeaton, Co. Limerick, son of William Foley, the incumbent, and Josephine Foley (née Clarke). After completing his BA at TCD, he joined the RIC as a cadet in 1911 and was a district inspector by 1914. At the outbreak of the first world war he joined the army and was commissioned into the 5th (Pioneer) Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment. He served with his battalion in Gallipoli, Salonika, and France, finishing the war as a major. Awarded an OBE for his wartime service, he remained in Germany as part of the occupying forces until late 1919, then returned to Ireland and rejoined the RIC, serving throughout the war of independence. In March 1922 he was in charge of training in the Mayo district when he was approached by Brig.-gen. Angus John McNeill, who asked him for assistance in recruiting RIC men for the British gendarmerie of the Palestine Police Force.
Foley based himself in Dublin and interviewed candidates, accepting those that he felt were the best from the ranks of the RIC and the Auxiliaries. Forty-nine officers and over 700 other ranks were eventually signed up for the gendarmerie, and sailed for Palestine in the City of London on 13 April 1922. The ship was due to be scrapped after this voyage and, on encountering heavy weather in the Bay of Biscay, conditions on board soon became both uncomfortable and dangerous. Discontent spread through the ship and, showing great tact, Foley spoke to the men on board and calmed the situation. On reaching Palestine he was appointed as second-in-command of the force. In March 1926 the gendarmerie was disbanded and its members transferred to the Palestine Police, forming its British section. In July 1927 Foley was promoted to district superintendent and appointed as the first officer commanding the Palestine Police Training School, based in the Russian compound in Jerusalem, where he soon became known for the high standards that he demanded from his men. This was a period of violent clashes between the Jewish and Arab communities, and after the ‘Wailing Wall incident’ (1928) a series of riots broke out in 1929. Foley was the officer commanding the Haifa station and, using a minimum of force, put down unrest in the town. Further unrest followed in 1933, and on one occasion he had to face down a crowd of 2,000 Arab protesters with just a small number of police. Preferring to adopt a low police profile, he maintained order with small loss of life. He served throughout the Arab rebellion (1936–9) and was appointed assistant inspector general in charge of CID in 1938.
He retired to Ireland in 1939, settling at Newtownmountkennedy, Co. Wicklow, where he farmed, kept beehives, donated land for a national school and helped run the local Church of Ireland church; he had studied theology as a young man and retained strong Christian principles. In 1931 he had married Eileen Murphy, who was originally from Co. Roscommon and was, like him, the child of a clergyman. They had a daughter Josephine. After his widowed sister died, he and his wife brought up their two young nieces. He moved to a cottage in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, following his wife’s death. He died there on 29 November 1982 and was buried in Redford cemetery.