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An eerie silence as town mourns loss of true gent

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John Peyton from Curry speaking with Cathal Mullaney of The Sligo Champion in Charlestown on Friday. Pics: Carl Brennan

John Peyton from Curry speaking with Cathal Mullaney of The Sligo Champion in Charlestown on Friday. Pics: Carl Brennan

John Peyton from Curry speaking with Cathal Mullaney of The Sligo Champion in Charlestown on Friday. Pics: Carl Brennan

The traffic along the busy N17 route continued to pass through Charlestown last Friday (19th), as the usual hustle and bustle of a weekday morning continued.

But, while the noise of motorists was still in the air, it was hard to escape the sense of eerie silence in the town on the Sligo-Mayo border as it attempted to come to terms with the tragic death of one of its own.

Detective Garda Colm Horkan was shot and killed some 45 kilometres away in Castlerea in the line of duty just over 24 hours previously. He was 49.

The shock and sheer devastation of the loss of a popular member of the community was palpable on Friday morning, ahead of a weekend when thousands would visit the town to pay their respects.

Indeed, the outpouring of grief and sadness from across the country at the loss of a member of An Garda Síochána in such harrowing circumstances further underlined how Detective Garda Horkan's passing shocked the nation.

For locals in Charlestown, the loss of a member of a family immersed in the local community through business and sport was almost too difficult to comprehend.

As Books of Condolence opened at Garda Stations around the country, there was a steady flow of locals to offer their sympathies via the book outside Charlestown Garda Station, only a couple of hundred metres away from the Horkan family home on the Airport Road.

One of those to offer his words of consolation was Curry native John Peyton, who said the wider south Sligo and east Mayo communities were still coming to terms with Detective Garda Horkan's death.

"It's a big shock to the community, as it is all over the world," Mr Peyton told The Sligo Champion.

"Charlestown is our postal address down to Curry, we always came shopping to Charlestown.

"I knew him since he was a lad, I drank in the pub.

"They're nice people, grand people. I got a phone call at half nine from yesterday morning that it was him, I had heard it and heard it was Mayo, but I didn't know until I got the phone call."

Soon after, Ted Davis, a business owner in the town, stopped to offer his sympathies and lay a bouquet of flowers.

"I'd like to pay my respects to a man who gave his life in the cause of his duty. I have a shop here in the Charlestown.

"That somebody can take a man's weapon, I just can't imagine it."

Sligo Champion