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Town and nation mourn unbearable loss

Detective Garda Colm Horkan described as kind, considerate, selfless and loyal

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Gardaí carry the coffin of their slain colleague, Detective Garda Colm Horkan to St James’ Church, Charlestown for his funeral Mass on Sunday. Pics: Donal Hackett and Carl Brennan

Gardaí carry the coffin of their slain colleague, Detective Garda Colm Horkan to St James’ Church, Charlestown for his funeral Mass on Sunday. Pics: Donal Hackett and Carl Brennan

Gardaí carry the coffin of their slain colleague, Detective Garda Colm Horkan to St James’ Church, Charlestown for his funeral Mass on Sunday. Pics: Donal Hackett and Carl Brennan

A son and brother like no other is how Detective Garda Colm Horkan was described at his funeral mass on Sunday last in Charlestown.

His brother, Brendan Horkan said the 49 year old was 'a rock in the family' and glued the family together.

In his eulogy to mourners gathered in and around St James' Church and the nearby GAA pitch, Fr O'Hara Park, Colm Horkan's brother said it was a sad day for the family, and the town and community of Charlestown.

"Our community has lost a pillar, in the true sense of the word as we struggle to comprehend the shocking events of Wednesday, June 17th when a man was cut down in the prime of his life, doing the job he loved and serving the country in the best way he knew how."

Described as 'a gem', Brendan said Colm was a wonderful uncle to his six nieces and nephews and had all the values one would associate with a 'good and decent human being'.

"He was kind, considerate, selfless and above all, loyal to the core. He was a rock in our family, the man that was the glue that held it all together."

Brendan said the late detective garda seldom made a bad decision and lived life by the book, which he said, "makes it all the more difficult to process the events surrounding that dark and tragic night some four days ago".

He said the GAA fan and Liverpool supporter touched many lives in the community of Charlestown and beyond, and carried himself with 'dignity' in and out of uniform.

"As a friend and brother he had few cares. He loved Charlestown as this was his home where he moulded many great and lasting friendships, and the outpouring of emotion following his passing has provided the family with great strength and support as we get ready to bid farewell to a great man."

Speaking of Det Gda Horkan's love for football, and his GAA career, Brendan said he served his local club, Charlestown Sarsfields with distinction over the course of a long and stellar career.

"He graced the green and white jersey with honour and excellence and was front and centre at many of our finest successes during the course of a career that reached some marvellous heights."

A footballer who played with courage, passion and intelligence, Brendan said his brother had some of his greatest ever performances at O'Hara Park, the place which saw hundreds of people gather to watch the funeral mass on Sunday.

"He was a leader and played with passion and belief that typified his character and he never let the jersey down and always came with the right pass or the crucial score to get us over the line in many of our epic victories."

The day he represented Mayo at U-21 level was noted as a proud day for his father Marty and late mother, Dolores who were such a constant presence in his life.

Brendan said both his parents were a constant on the sideline providing support to Colm whatever team he was representing on whatever day.

"Colm was a believer in giving 100 percent in everything he did on the football field and this was a mantra he brought into work and life in general as these were the values he was instilled and imbued with from an early age from Marty and our beloved late mother Dolores and we his siblings can be proud in the way he went about his business and provided the template as to how one should live life and get the most out of each and every day."

Mourners heard Garda Horkan commanded respect wherever he went and was a man of great humour who could brighten up a room.

"Colm commanded respect wherever he went. Time spent in his company was precious and there was always a laugh and a joke to be had with that disarming beaming smile that would always light up a room and brighten up many a dark hour and day. He loved life and lived it in the best way he knew how."

Colm's brother thanked communities across Mayo and Sligo for the way in which they paid tribute to him since his tragic passing on Wednesday night last.

He referred to the journey home from Castlebar last week after Colm's post mortem and said it was one which 'tugged on the heart strings' as communities from Bohola, Moy Davitts, Swinford, Carracastle, Charlestown, Ballaghaderreen, Tourlastrane, Curry and all the GAA clubs lined the streets to commemorate him.

"To honour a man they had many a battle and joust with on the field of play. We as a family were honoured and proud of the way they honoured his memory.

"A heartfelt thanks to all who took the time out to extend their sympathies and took a moment to remember the man that was, both as a player and as a person."

A purveyor of good advice, Colm was described as 'an absolute treasure' by his brother who said he made their lives so much better by his 'mere presence'.

He said he and his family's emotions were 'in turmoil' as they prepared to say goodbye.

"He had so much to live for and got such enjoyment out of life that today seems like such a horrible and nonsensical event.

"The reality has hit us square in the face and as we get ready to say our final goodbyes to a man of sheer class there must be a place for him at the top table in that great house in the sky, as our loss is most definitely heaven's gain."

Concluding the eulogy, Brendan said his brother left a legacy and 'wonderful memories'.

"One thing is for sure, he leaves a legacy of wonderful memories which we will cherish and hold dear in our hearts forever as we say goodbye to a giant who brought such joy and happiness to us all for 49 brilliant and fantastic years."

The euology was met with applause from hundreds of garda colleagues, family members, friends and teammates.

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