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Dublin: 19 °C Friday 14 August, 2020
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'He was the rock in our family': Officers line the streets to pay their respects at the funeral of Detective Garda Colm Horkan

Over 1,000 people turned out to mourn his passing.

Image: Leon Farrell via RollingNews.ie

DETECTIVE GARDA COLM Horkan died as he lived – protecting those around him.

Today, those same people lined the streets of his native Charlestown, Mayo, to protect him as he made his final journey.

Over 1,000 people thronged the streets this morning to pay their respects to the garda, who was shot dead in the line of duty on Wednesday night. 

Locals could be seen shedding tears as they watched the cortege enter the church grounds. Colm (49) was a local hero, a stalwart of the town’s GAA club and someone who was described by his colleagues as “a garda’s garda” and “a gentleman of the highest order”. 

Through the offertory, several items were brought to the altar, including Colm’s garda notebook, a Charlestown Sarsfields GAA jersey, and a Liverpool Football Club tie pin. 

Colm’s brother Dermot said Liverpool’s motto, “You’ll never walk alone”, summed up his brother as Colm would never let any of his friends or family walk alone. 

In his homily, Monsignor Tommy Johnston said that Colm’s death was shocking and that the garda was one of life’s gentlemen.

He said: “The gunshots that rang out in the early hours of Wednesday morning echoed not just in the town of Castlerea but right across the country, spreading a story of tragedy and sadness and the loss of life of a Detective Garda.

“A news reporter on an early morning bulletin said the community of Castlerea is shocked and deeply saddened by this death. The name had not yet been released but we know he was from Mayo and so another community will be shocked and saddened by this death, and I thought, I pity the priest who has to do that funeral. Little did I think I would be that priest and that the Detective Garda was Colm.

Colm Horkan was a good man, one of nature’s gentlemen, that and more, as someone said.  On Friday night as his body was brought back home, hundreds of people lined the streets from the GAA pitch to his home. 
As the hearse passed on its way those lining the street joined in a silent walk of welcome for a man who was dearly loved and respected in the community. 

“Old and young gathered for that walk with the various teams, senior and underage, women and men flanking the hearse and the following cars, a silent salute for a man whose voice was gentle and his approach respectful.  That gentleness and respect earned the goodwill of so many and endeared him to young and old.”

colm_horkan Source: An Garda Síochána

Monsignor Johnston also read out words from a dear friend of Colm’s, who had penned a tribute to the garda. 

It read: “Colm was a cherished member of our community, a brother to everyone, young and old.  We grew up together, played together and performed in school plays together.

“Now we are in shock and deep mourning. We are heartbroken for Colm’s family, colleagues and many, many friends.

“It will take a long, long time for our community to come to terms with this senseless act of violence against our brother, Colm.

“Now, Colm is God’s right-hand-man, his very best wingman.  Now we ask God, surrounded by all the saints and angels in heaven, to wrap Colm in His arms, to comfort and console Colm’s family, colleagues and many, many friends, near and far.

“May Colm’s gentle, gentle soul Rest in Eternal Peace with his mother Delores and sister Colette.”

Delivering the eulogy, Colm’s brother Brendan said: “Our community has lost a pillar in the true sense of the word. Colin was a gem, he was a son and brother like no other.

Brendan added: “He had all the values you would associate with a good and decent human being.

“He was the rock in our family, the man who was the glue that held it all together.”

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Despite a deluge of rain, crowds watched proceedings from a GAA pitch where a large screen and sound system had been set up.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, local Cian Cribben said showing up to the proceedings was the least he could do. 

“I knew Colm years. I could never get a hand near him when playing football. He was just a proper, decent man. People like him don’t come around too often.”

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris also gave a speech where he praised Colm’s professionalism and offered his own personal condolences to the Horkan family. 

He said: “Detective Garda Colm Horkan epitomised what all of us as members of An Garda Síochána should strive to be.

“He was approachable and well-known and respected in his local community and also in Castlerea, where he was extremely well regarded and well-liked and where he policed for 21 years of his 26 years of service.

“In the end at 12 midnight on Wednesday evening, his service was entirely characterised by his determination and courage in the exercise of his duty to protect this society. We at An Garda Síochána have been overwhelmed by the support of local communities in Mayo, Roscommon, and throughout Ireland, where to all of us who serve, society has extended a hand of help, support and practical assistance. 

“The outpouring of condolence and support in response to Colm’s death and also in response to the shocking manner of his death has supported all of us who work in An Garda Síochána. May I also say that the manner of Colm’s death should not eclipse Colm’s life. Colm belonged first to his family, and may I express my own sincere condolences.”

Colm is predeceased by his mother Dolores and twin sister Colette. He is survived by father Marty, sister Deirdre, brothers Aiden, Brendan, Dermot and Padraig. 

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