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'I know the lads will be keeping seats for us in the classroom in the sky' - Gda Horkan one of four officers who graduated together, and died in the line of duty

Colm Horkan the latest tragedy to strike Templemore class of '95

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Gone before their time: The Class of ‘95, including Det-Gda Adrian Donohoe and Det-Gda Colm Horkan. Classmate John McCarthy, who is currently serving in west Cork, and remembers Colm Horkan as quiet and unassuming, is pictured in the middle row, far right, next to Det-Gda Horkan.

Gone before their time: The Class of ‘95, including Det-Gda Adrian Donohoe and Det-Gda Colm Horkan. Classmate John McCarthy, who is currently serving in west Cork, and remembers Colm Horkan as quiet and unassuming, is pictured in the middle row, far right, next to Det-Gda Horkan.

Victim: Det Gda Adrian Donohoe was shot dead in Co Louth in 2013. Photo: Garda/PA Wire

Victim: Det Gda Adrian Donohoe was shot dead in Co Louth in 2013. Photo: Garda/PA Wire

Eoin Fitzgerald

Eoin Fitzgerald

Ambrose Fogarty

Ambrose Fogarty

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Gone before their time: The Class of ‘95, including Det-Gda Adrian Donohoe and Det-Gda Colm Horkan. Classmate John McCarthy, who is currently serving in west Cork, and remembers Colm Horkan as quiet and unassuming, is pictured in the middle row, far right, next to Det-Gda Horkan.

Colm Horkan, who was shot dead last week, is one of four gardaí who all graduated together and have since died in the line of duty.

Detective Garda Horkan was among 100 young recruits, who walked through the gates of the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary, in July 1994.

The group was divided into four classes of 25.

Fourteen months later, in September 1995, they all graduated and were sent to their new stations around the country. Only 23 of Det-Gda Horkan's class are still alive.

Also shot dead was Det-Gda Adrian Donohoe, who was shot outside Lordship credit union at Bellurgan, Co Louth, in January 2013.

Adrian's wife, Caroline, was also in that class.

Another graduate from that year, Garda Eoin Fitzgerald, son of former deputy garda commissioner Peter Fitzgerald, was killed while responding to an emergency call for help when his patrol car was involved in a collision at Mount Merrion in south Dublin in January, 1998.

The fourth victim, Garda Ambrose Fogarty, died when he and a colleague were on their way to deal with a disturbance in the village of Camolin, Co Wexford, in September 1999, when their patrol car was in a collision in Enniscorthy.

A classmate of Colm Horkan and Adrian Donohoe, John McCarthy, who is now serving in west Cork, recalls how the 25 became friends as they settled into the Garda College.

"As a group from all over the country, we had to get on together. We shared a corridor and had to do projects, assignments, study and even 5km runs together. I remember Colm as a quiet, unassuming guy, who regularly had the banter with others in relation to football in Mayo.

"It is hard to forget from such a small number of 25. The chances of having one of our class shot to death was 14,500-to-one. But it has happened to us. Not once, but twice."

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Det-Gda Colm Horkan at his passing out ceremony

Det-Gda Colm Horkan at his passing out ceremony

Det-Gda Colm Horkan at his passing out ceremony

He describes Mr Donohoe as larger than life, adding that he will never be forgotten for his wit and humour.

"If often came at just the right time to lift the mood, if you were feeling down or falling behind.

"So, when I heard the news about Colm, I could not hold back the tears any longer."

In class, Mr McCarthy sat between Adrian Donohoe and Caroline, who was later to become his wife.

"She has suffered more than the rest of us and I cannot begin to understand what she went through when she lost Adrian, her husband and classmate. And now another classmate is taken far too soon.

"A lot of people say gardaí have it handy. Some of us do, some of the time. But they do not realise we are gardaí 24/7. You are never really off. If you step out of line while off-duty, you are still dealt with like you are on duty," wrote Mr McCarthy in a WhatsApp message.

"As a guard, you see some terrible things. You simply cannot avoid dealing with fatal accidents or suicides. You see things that you cannot unsee.

"I know Colm was a people person and earned the respect of all who knew him. Yesterday, I thought how unlucky our class was to have lost two to gunshots.

"Today, I feel so lucky to have been in that class and to have personally known Adrian and Colm.

"I hope we can all meet some day again when we retire. But if not, I know the two lads will be keeping seats for us in the classroom in the sky. RIP Colm and Adrian."

Irish Independent