'We won't let it go until Adrian Donohoe's killers face justice'
Every Thursday evening, the late Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe squeezed his tall frame through a gap in a fence beside his house in Lordship and ran on to a pitch full of six and seven year olds lined up to learn how to play Gaelic football. He always wore shorts, no matter what the weather, and he always showed patience and humour to the throng of children milling around his knees.
Now his love of sport has inspired his community to set up a sporting scholarship in memory of the garda who was brutally murdered almost three years ago.
The sporting scholarship will be funded by a concert to be held in Dundalk on Friday, January 29 - almost three years to the day that Garda Donohoe (41) was shot dead during an armed robbery at Lordship Credit Union. His killers remain at large.
The scholarship will be open to young people of all ages involved in any type of sport. Alan Duffy, chairman of Garda Donohoe's club, St Patrick's Gaelic Football Club, said he can still picture Donohoe on their local pitch.
"He was well over six foot tall and the children were only up to his knees," he said. As the chances of teaching ball skills at that age are slim, "all he really did was to play with 40 children every Thursday night."
The sight of this gentle giant in a sea of children chasing the ball always raised a smile, he said.
The St Patrick's club will also hold its annual candlelight vigil for Adrian Donohoe on January 22 in Lordship, while a football tournament in his honour is held every October.
"We won't let it go, the club will not let it go, the community will not it go until Adrian's killers are brought to justice. Adrian Donohoe was a role model to all the young people in the area," said Mr Duffy.
"That's why his loss is still so cruelly felt by everybody. He had so much of a positive impact on so many people. You just think of this gentle giant. You can picture those kids, and this big tall man training them, and the positive influence he had on the under-16 boys. They really suffered afterwards because he was so huge, such an influence, and he was ripped away. It made the world a different place for them."
Garda Donohoe, a native of Cavan, joined the club after he moved to Louth.
He was "instrumental" in St Pat's winning the Louth senior championship in 2002, playing at midfield. He coached the under-16 boys and went on to become youth sports director in the club, taking over the role from Alan Duffy, just weeks before he died.
The concert, 'Remembering Adrian', takes place in St Joseph's Redemptorist Church in Dundalk on January 29, which is also where his funeral Mass was held.
Performers will include The Priests, Liam Lawton, the YouTube sensation Leah Kirwan and St Joseph's Redemptorist Senior Choir. Eileen Dunne, the RTE news anchor, will be MC on the night.
The organisers include local artists, musicians and the Redemptorist community.