Detective Garda Colm Horkan has been remembered as one of “nature’s gentlemen” at his funeral mass in Charlestown, Co Mayo.
Hundreds of Gardaí from Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon divisions gathered in the town today to pay their last respects to the Detective, who was killed on Wednesday night in Castlerea, Co Roscommon.
The funeral mass is being held at St James’ Church in Charlestown, the same church Detective Garda Horkan made his First Communion and Confirmation.
Detective Horkan’s coffin was draped in a tricolour and was carried by his four brothers Aiden, Brendan, Dermot and Padraig up to St James' Church.
A picture of the murdered garda was displayed on a screen close to the altar.
With limits on the number allowed inside, people gathered outside the church for the service.
Among symbols left at the altar to represent Colm Horkan's life were his garda notebook, a GAA jersey from his home team in Charlestown and a Liverpool FC tie pin.
His brother Dermot explained the significance of each.
Delivering a personal tribute, Mr Horkan's brother Brendan said the outpouring of tributes from across the community had given the family strength.
"Our community has lost a pillar in the true sense of the word," he told mourners.
"Colin was a gem, he was a son and brother like no other.
"He had all the values you would associate with a good and decent human being."
Mr Horkan said his brother was "loyal to the core".
"He was the rock in our family, the man who was the glue that held it all together," he said.
Applause broke out across the church as Mr Horkan concluded his remarks.
Among those present were Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.
Addressing mourners, Commissioner Harris said Mr Horkan's Garda service was marked by his "hard work and diligence".
The commissioner said his "determination and courage" was on show in the moments before his death on Wednesday night.
"The manner of Colm's death should not eclipse Colm's life," he added.
He told Mr Horkan's family that the garda would always be remembered within the force.
"I want to assure you that Colm's name will live on and he will be remembered within An Garda Siochana in the years to come," he said.
Ahead of the funeral, a minute's silence was observed and matched with similar tributes at Garda stations around the country at the same time.
In his homily, parish priest Monsignor Tommy Johnston said that the gunshots that rang out in the early hours of Wednesday morning echoed not just in the town of Castlerea but right across the country, “spreading a story of tragedy and sadness and the loss of life of a Detective Garda“.
“Colm Horkan was a good man, one of nature’s gentlemen, that and more.
“One of the good things that have 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.”
He said that questions have arisen following his death, including why “this tragedy” took place.
“In the case of Colm, questions have us wonder why did this tragedy happen, why did Colm die, why was this life which had so much to offer taken away so soon. I cannot answer those questions, but it seems when God takes the young he takes only the very best.”
Fr Johnston also included a tribute written by one of the Detective’s friends in his homily, who called him a “cherished member” of the community.
“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."
He said that the community is in “deep mourning”.
“Now we are in shock and deep mourning. 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.”
The friend wrote that Det Gda Horkan is “God’s right hand man”.
“Now Colm is God’s right-hand-man, his very best wingman. Now we ask God, surrounded by all the saints and angels in heaven, to wrap Colm in His arms, to comfort and console Colm’s family, colleagues and many, many friends, near and far.
“May Colm’s gentle, gentle soul Rest in Eternal Peace with his mother Delores and sister Colette,” the letter concluded.
Gda Det Horkan’s coffin was carried up Chapel St by his four brothers and was then taken over by members of An Garda Siochana
Screens were set up in the nearby GAA pitch for the public to observe and the funeral is live-streamed online and broadcast on Midwest Radio.
A one minute silence across the nation commenced at midday to commemorate this death by An Garda Siochana, where every station in Ireland will hold a minute's silence.
Castlerea Garda Station Supt Goretti Sheridan announced the nationwide minute’s silence at the altar at noon.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar took part at Garda Headquarters in Phoenix Park, while President Michael D Higgins held a vigil at Aras an Uachtarain in Phoenix Park.
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan as well as Garda Commissioner Drew Harris attended the funeral.
Irish News Premium
The sun shone down on Market Square in Charlestown. Shutters clattered down as businesses around the square closed up for the day. Outside the family hardware store, John Casey, the former Mayo footballer, was preparing to lock up. Across the street, an Audi parked in front of Colleran's pharmacy glinted in the evening light.
His colleagues, his family and friends, and the whole country, want Detective Garda Colm Horkan to get the funeral he deserves. The fact that his people are undertakers, who have already buried two of their own, somehow makes it more important.