'A gentle man who simply got on with his job'
Father of three Tony Golden was described by a senior Garda colleague last night as a quiet and unassuming officer, who carried out his work diligently.
"Tony was a gentle man, who performed his duties without any fuss and simply got on with the job," he recalled.
"He was respected and well liked by his colleagues and also in the communities in Omeath, where he served, and in Blackrock, near Dundalk, where he lived with his wife, Nicola and three children, all under eight years", the officer added.
Gardai said he had been based in Omeath station with three other colleagues, including a sergeant, for almost seven years and had spent the other four years of his career stationed at Cabinteely in south Dublin.
His wife Nicola, a nurse from nearby Blackrock, and the family are said to be an integral part of the community in the Co Louth area.
The 36-year-old garda was also involved in charity work and was one of the organisers locally of the annual Movember fund raising activities to combat prostate and testicular cancer as well as poor mental health in men.
Another senior officer, Supt Gerry Curley, who is in charge of the Dundalk district, said Tony was meticulous in the way he went about his work.
He said the officer was a credit to An Garda Siochana and his death would be "a major loss to us all".
Originally from Culleens, Killala Road in Ballina, Co Mayo, Gda Golden's parents David and Brid still live in the rural community.
The garda was one of six children and was educated at Culleens National School and St. Muredach's College in Ballina.
The sports fan excelled at Gaelic football and hurling, playing for the Ballina Stephenites club. Chairman John Healy said the entire club was devastated at his sudden death.
He said they would work with the Golden family and hold a tribute for the late club member.
Family friend Cllr Gerry Ginty, Cathaoirleach of Ballina Municipal District, said the community was in shock.
"They are a lovely family who were sports mad.
"Tony was a quiet fella and such a nice young guy. It's hard to believe that he died like this when he was just doing his job," he said.
"The whole family were a great GAA family and Tony was just the same. He was a great hurler. We are all just devastated for the family, especially his wife and children, his parents and his brothers and sister," he added.
Mayo Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary expressed his deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Garda Golden, describing his family as highly respected and rooted in the local community.
Books of condolences were opened yesterday at Dundalk and Ballina stations.