'Words cannot explain how good of a man Tony was'
"Goodbye Anthony, my brother, husband, father, son and hero", these were the final emotional words from Garda Tony Golden's heartbroken brother Patrick to the thousands of mourners who gathered to remember the slain garda.
He told the packed congregation that Tony had lived by the values his parents had passed on to him.
Describing him as "a hero, gentle giant, family man, caring, rock, and idol", Patrick added: "These words cannot explain how good of a man he was, and how much we all love him."
He told the 4,500 gardai that as a child his big brother had always made him feel so secure and protected.
"He always looked out for me, and ensured I was never led astray. He would go out of his way to ensure I was always safe. This was Tony's nature, as he treated all his family and friends in the same way.
"Tony has made Nicola and the children feel the same way over the last eight to nine years. The same applies to the communities in which he has been stationed as a garda."
This was demonstrated by his bravery last Sunday evening,
"He lost his life in an attempt to protect two other individuals, and this has cost him dearly.
"I was never so proud a few years ago as when he asked me to be his best man. Little did I think that such a short time later I'd be speaking at his funeral. But today I am still so proud to stand here and call him my big brother."
He said his brother had a short life but had achieved much during that time, ranging from his sporting achievements when he graced Croke Park with Ballina Stephenites, to his marriage, and the births of his three children.
"Tony was a great family man and father. He adored Nicola and his children. He cared for Lucy, Alex, and Andrew, in such a loving way, just as he was reared by our mum and dad. The qualities Tony possessed were nurtured in our family home."
Family photographs, a Ballina Stephenites GAA club jersey and hurley, a remote control, can of Coke, crisps, and bar of chocolate. These were the simple - yet poignant symbols - which for Garda Tony Golden's family best summed up his all too short life.
The church itself could only fit 300 mourners, so video screens were erected outside and in the village broadcasting the funeral to the thousands who came to mourn.
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.
Chief celebrant at the Requiem Mass, Fr Pádraig Keenan, parish priest of Haggardstown, described Tony as a virtuous man, the perfect role model for the rest of society.
"He was one of life's gentlemen," he said.
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."
Father Keenan said the magnitude of his "cold blooded murder" has affected so many people in so many ways. He urged thoughts and prayers for Siobhán Phillips who is fighting for her life.
"Murder is evil, murder has no place in our society. Murder must stop. All forms of violence must stop."
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.
"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."