Video: Moving aerial footage shows sea of blue sweep through village to pay respects to 'adored dad' Garda Tony Golden
This moving aerial footage shows a phalanx of over 4,500 Gardai - including many of Garda Tony Golden's close colleagues and friends - pay a special heartfelt farewell to their slain colleague.
What started off as a trickle soon turned into a flood, as a sea of blue swept through the small village of Blackrock in Co Louth.
Those wishing to pay their respects came from all over Ireland to say a final goodbye to an “adored dad”, “beloved husband” and "dedicated member of An Garda Síochána”.
It was as if time stood still, while a pall of grief, hung over the tiny church and surrounding streets.
Family photographs, a GAA jersey, a TV remote control, a can of Coke, a bag of crisps, and a 'Drifter' chocolate bar.
These were the simple - yet poignant symbols - which for Garda Tony Golden's family best summed up his all too short life.
Today they were presented at the Requiem Mass for the 88th member of the force to die in the line of duty.
The 36-year-old was shot dead while responding to a domestic abuse case at a house near Omeath in Co Louth on Sunday evening.
The chief mourners were his wife, Nicola, children Lucy, Alex and Andrew, and his extended family.
Saint Oliver Plunkett Church, which can seat about 300 people, was reserved for family, friends, colleagues and dignitaries.
Outside, giant screens relayed the Mass, as hundreds of mourns stood in respectful silence.
Shortly after 11.30, Garda Golden’s remains were removed from his home, which he shared with his wife and three adored children.
The heartbroken family then made the short journey to the nearby church.
Offering visible support to Tony's wife and children were the late garda's parents Breege and David, his brothers David, Kenneth, Patrick, and Sean, and his sister Mary.
Nicola’s parents Tony and Iris, sisters in law Majella, Laura, Aisling and Tara, and brother in law Jonathan, also formed part of his immediate family, visibly shocked at their loss.
The attendance included President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Joan Burton, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and gardaí from across the country.
Chief celebrant, Fr Pádraig Keenan, parish priest of Haggardstown, said Garda Golden was a virtuous man who was a perfect role model for the rest of society.
"He was one of life's gentlemen.
"As one may have observed entering this church, or wherever you are within the church grounds and within the village, you may have noticed the silence of the water in Dundalk Bay.
"It reflects the silence and sadness that has unfolded for all of us, in light of the taking of Garda Tony Golden’s life, on Sunday evening last.
"One cannot imagine the pain and hurt that is experienced by the loss of those who loved Garda Tony. That pain is real for his heartbroken wife Nicola, the adored dad of Lucy, Alex and Andrew."
Garda Golden had served as a garda for more than 10 years in a number of divisions.
"Tony quietly let his light shine in so many ways through his life in a very humble way.
"Amidst our sadness may we be thankful for the charisma of his beautiful but too short life."
Tony's close friend, Keith Gutherie, took to the altar a Ballina Stephanites GAA jersey, a symbol of his love of sport.
A montage of family photographs was presented by Jonathan and Tara Shirley, brother and sister-in-law of Nicola.
Finally, Kevin Cleary, a Garda and close friend, carried a remote control, a can of Coke, crisps, a 'Drifer' bar of chocolate, and Hunky Dory crisps, to the altar.
These all reflected his various 'time out' leisure activities.
Father Keenan said the magnitude of his "cold blooded murder" has affected so many people in so many ways.
"Murder is evil, murder has no place in our society. Murder must stop. All forms of violence must stop.
"We remember in our thoughts and prayers the young woman Siobhan who is seriously injured."
He told how Tony is the 88th member of An Garda Síochána who has died "protecting our country, our society and our community."
"It is 88 members too many. He like all the others is mourned by the entire nation.
"His murder brings to mind once again all the families and communities that have been affected on our island.
"Garda Tony’s death once again reflects how North Louth and the Cooley Peninsula have been affected by the tragic history of the troubles on the island of Ireland, and especially the murder of Detective Garda Adrian O’Donohoe, three years ago at Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan.
"Too many hearts have been broken, and lives shattered. I say on this day, from the depths of my heart - and I am sure I speak for all people of goodwill - when I say that there is no place for violence in our society, violence is wrong, always wrong."
He said Tony was so proud to serve the community of Omeath.
"As one person from Omeath put it to me in recent days, he was “our garda”, and to a person amongst his family and colleagues, all are immensely proud of Garda Tony and his selfless nature – proud of everything he lived for, worked for and stood for. Tony Golden was a much loved role model in our community.
"He had a charisma that was calm, gentle and polite, as reflected in our second reading.
"Tony showed us a way to love that is better than anything else in life. Tony with Nicola believed in life, a life that gave them hope, in the spirit of love.
"Tony made his time on this earth beautiful in so many ways, and in one’s brokenness, they will be the memories to be always treasured and cherished forever."
There was still much to be fulfilled, he said, especially watching and guiding his three children through their life’s story.
"But we trust that his spirit will be with each of you as you continue to walk this earth."
To the haunting strains of Bruce Springstein's You're Missing, and the still gentle sound of lapping water in Dundalk Bay, his coffin was shouldered from the church.
As his cortege left the church grounds, his garda comrades provided visible support to his shattered wife and family.
The sea of blue helped carry him to his final resting place in at St Paul’s cemetery in Heynestown.