For six hours or more they came, queued and prayed for a fallen hero
FROM the stroke of noon, crowds of mourners materialised, standing silently and respectfully outside the family home where all the blinds were drawn.
And from then until 6pm, it literally never stopped.
It is unlikely that the small parish of Lordship outside Dundalk, Co Louth, had ever seen the like – as thousands of people poured into this quiet area in the foothills of the Cooley mountains, with its picturesque views over the bay.
Friends, colleagues, neighbours, those who had known Adrian Donohoe and those who had not but who felt compelled to come and sympathise. To say a word, to offer a hug or just to be there.
Noel Conroy, former Garda Commissioner came; Timmy Dooley, the Fianna Fail TD for Clare also came; as did PJ Stone from the Garda Representative Association. And John Redmond, general secretary of that AGSI and Detective Superintendent Jim Browne from Limerick. There were men who had played football with Adrian, gardai who had trained with him or those who had worked with either him or Caroline.
Old neighbours came from Adrian's birthplace of Kilnaleck in Co Cavan and a minibus load of people arrived who had known Caroline as a child back in Kilkee, Co Clare.
They all came, most parking their cars at the local GAA club of St Patrick's and being ferried up to the house by shuttle bus.
Afterwards, looking shaken and tearful, the mourners met back again at the clubhouse for a cup of tea where they sat largely in sorrowful silence, or exchanged a few hushed words amongst themselves.
There was nothing to say, said one woman quietly.
Sympathising with the family was a difficult thing to do because she just didn't know what to say. But she went anyway, knowing that if the family need anything right now it's the comfort of loved ones and strangers.
Fr Johnny McNulty from Cooley said the same thing. People don't know what to say to one another. The death had been so sudden and there is so much sadness.
But the community were "marvellous," he said, adding: "They are providing great comfort for Caroline and the family, I'd imagine."
A blow of reality struck when it emerged that Adrian had been due to appear on RTE's Crimecall last night to discuss one of his investigations.
By afternoon, a blustery gale had arrived and the rain pelted down in sheets.
Traffic again appeared on the stretch of main road passing the spot where the detective had been gunned down in cold blood.
The road had been re-opened but garda investigation tape still fluttered at the gate of Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan, Jenkinstown, which lies in pitifully clear sight of the windows of the national school where Adrian's two children Amy and Niall are pupils.
A local organiser at the wake confirmed that the family will not be passing the fateful spot today on their way to the State funeral but will instead take an alternative route.
Among the bouquets of flowers laid at the site, two stood out.
The first was from Adrian's grieving wife and children, and the card read: "Adrian, beloved husband and dad, dearly loved by Caroline, Amy, Niall."
The other was from Adrian's parents, Peggy and Hugh Donohoe who had written: "Our darling Adrian, you will never be forgotten, love Mammy and Daddy."
At Dundalk garda station, there were more flowers, with wreaths left by garda colleagues from as far away as Letterkenny and Buncrana.
Natasha Gonnelly from Dundalk had come to get a driving licence signed but stopped to sign the book.
"It was an absolute disgrace – a man out doing his job to support his family just like everybody else," she said.
"I hope they're caught, whoever they are."
"I had to come," said Declan Muckian of Dundalk. "I'm absolutely shocked by what happened.
"The futility, the savagery and the mindlessness of it – I just can't take it in."