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'Colm was a rock, the glue that held us all together'

Brothers tell of family's loss as slain detective is mourned at moving funeral

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United in grief: The coffin containing the body of Colm Horkan is carried to the grave. Photo: Mark Condren

United in grief: The coffin containing the body of Colm Horkan is carried to the grave. Photo: Mark Condren

The slain detective’s father, Marty, holds a Tricolour at the graveside. Picture: Mark Condren

The slain detective’s father, Marty, holds a Tricolour at the graveside. Picture: Mark Condren

A group of mourners. Photo: Mark Condren

A group of mourners. Photo: Mark Condren

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was among the congregation.
Photo: PA

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was among the congregation. Photo: PA

PA

Marty Horkan, father of Detective Garda Colm Horkan at his graveside in St James's church, Charlestown, Co Mayo.

Marty Horkan, father of Detective Garda Colm Horkan at his graveside in St James's church, Charlestown, Co Mayo.

United in grief: The coffin containing the body of Colm Horkan is carried to the grave. Photo: Mark Condren

Detective Garda Colm Horkan was remembered yesterday by his family as a "rock" and the "glue that held it all together".

Hundreds of gardaí from Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon divisions gathered to pay their last respects to the detective, who was killed on Wednesday night in Castlerea, Co Roscommon.

His funeral took place in St James's Church in Charlestown, Co Mayo - where the tragic garda was baptised and made his first communion and confirmation.

In an emotional tribute, his brother Brendan Horkan said that he had been "cut down in the prime of his life doing the job he loved".

"He was a rock in our family, the glue that held it all together," he said.

"Colm was a gem. A son and brother like no other. A wonderful brother and uncle."

He added that the Charlestown native was "kind, considerate, selfless and above all, loyal to the core".

Mr Horkan said that his brother's journey home "tugged at heartstrings" as "communities lined the roads and streets".

"Mine and the family's emotions are in turmoil at this time. He was a man who made our lives so much better," added Mr Horkan.

"Today is such a horrible and nonsensical event. Reality hit us square in the face."

He also said that his brother was "a man of sheer class", which must mean "a seat for him at the top table".

"Our loss is heaven's gain. Today, we say goodbye to a giant who brought joy and happiness to us all for 49 fantastic years," he added.

Det-Gda Horkan's coffin was carried up Chapel Street by his four brothers and was then taken over by members of An Garda Síochána.

Supt Goretti Sheridan, of Castlerea garda station, announced a nationwide minute's silence at the altar at noon.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar paid his respects at Garda Headquarters, while President Michael D Higgins held a vigil at Áras an Uachtaráin in the Phoenix Park.

The chief celebrant of the mass, parish priest Monsignor Tommy Johnston, described Det-Gda Horkan as "one of nature's gentlemen".

"Colm Horkan was a good man, one of nature's gentlemen, that and more," he said.

"One of the good things that has emerged from Covid-19 is that it has helped us to recognise the importance of our frontline workers and up there, very much to the fore, are our guards helping to keep the nation safe."

Fr Johnston also included a tribute written by an unnamed friend in his homily.

"Colm was a cherished member of our community, a brother to everyone, young and old.

"We grew up together, played together and performed in school plays together," said the friend.

He said that the community was in "deep mourning", adding: "We are heartbroken for Colm's family, colleagues and many, many friends.

"It will take a long, long time for our community to come to terms with this senseless act of violence against our brother, Colm."

Another of Det-Gda Horkan's brothers, Dermot, spoke tearfully at the altar as gifts were brought up.

A Garda notebook was brought up as a gift to symbolise his service, as well as a Charlestown jersey in green and white, and his car keys - as he had a "great passion for cars".

A CD was also brought up as the detective was "always in the queue for tickets at Ticketmaster", as well as a family photo to symbolise the "strong bond" he had with this family.

His "love for fashion" was symbolised with a Tommy Hilfiger shirt and his Liverpool tie pin 'You'll Never Walk Alone' which "summed up Colm perfectly".

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris attended the funeral and were among the 25 people permitted to be inside the church.

Commissioner Harris said Det-Gda Horkan "epitomised what all of us as members of An Garda Síochána should strive to be" and his service "was characterised by hard work and diligence". While his death was a "heavy blow" to An Garda Síochána, Roscommon and Mayo communities had supported the force.

A private burial at the cemetery adjoining the church took place after the Mass.

Irish Independent