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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 21 August, 2019
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'We were just beginning to feel safe again': A quiet, pretty village shaken by tragedy

“It’s terrible to think that there’s nothing to be done about it at this stage, the harm has been done already.”

AS THE SUN rose yesterday morning over Carlingford Lough, the community of Omeath in county Louth went about their normal business.

People got ready for work, parents got their little ones out of bed and off to school, businesses opened for the day.

“You can just feel it hanging in the air though, what happened,” a local man remarked.

Just hours before, this quiet border village, set in the beautiful backdrop of the lough, had been the scene of an unthinkable tragedy.

A much-loved husband and father of a young family had been killed and a 21-year-old woman was fighting for her life in hospital. A young man had also turned his gun on himself.

Speechless

In the Mullach Alainn estate early yesterday, a large section had been cordoned off with crime scene tape.

Source: Niall Carson/PA

Officers continued their examination of the house in which 24-year-old Adrian Crevan Mackin shot and killed Garda Tony Golden and seriously injured his girlfriend after she made a complaint about him at the local station.

The estate was quiet with just a small number of neighbours passing silently by.

“Last night people were speechless and today the emotions are starting to come to the surface,” Green Party councillor Mark Deary, who lives locally, commented.

In the school yard as he dropped off his children, he spoke with other parents, many of whom were friends with one of the people involved in the horrific incident.

I think people saw each other, there were tears, people had been at home all night thinking about it, maybe sleepless all night, finally meeting friends and neighbours and getting to talk and the awful sense of shock.

“At a time when there has been no resolution to the murder of Adrian Donohoe in terms of a conviction we were beginning to feel a bit safe again around all these things and then this happened,” he added.

“It was a pleasure to know him”

At 10 o’clock mass, the parish priest spoke of the great sadness felt by everyone in Omeath.

Leaving the church, former garda sergeant Michael Mullaney, who had been based in Omeath’s station stopped to speak.

I’m pleased to say I did know him and it was a pleasure to know him. He was approachable and he was helpful in his demeanour. If you made a request to Tony or sought his assistance he just couldn’t say no.

As well as the obvious shock, the former sergeant said the feeling in the community was one of revulsion.

“It’s terrible to think that there’s nothing to be done about it at this stage, the harm has been done already. I don’t know what motivates someone like that to pick up a gun and level it at somebody else,” he said.

People will be more wary. It brings home to them what people of violence are prepared to do and the havoc they wreak on society.

In a small café, locals who sat around discussing the incident mirrored his thoughts.

You’d be afraid to walk down the street now
The guards should all be armed.

“It’s just an awful tragedy isn’t it? Horrendous,” a woman in the group said, and everyone agreed.

A lovely, gentle man

As the day wore on, locals left bouquets of flowers at the door of Omeath garda station and at the scene.

Source: Niall Carson/PA

One message read: ”With deepest sympathy to family, friends and colleagues of Tony, a lovely gentle man”.

Source: Niall Carson/PA

Inside the station, the man’s colleagues continued with their work on the investigation into his killing.

Their professionalism at a time of personal grief was something Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan had made a point of highlighting at a press conference in Dundalk that day.

“When a colleague is lost in such tragic circumstances they have to park the emotion, you know, the trauma,” she told reporters.

Into the evening their work continued, as officers called into businesses asking for CCTV footage and knocked on doors in the Mullach Alainn estate.

A person everyone just liked

Garda Tony Golden has been described as many things in the last two days – a family man, a diligent worker, a good friend. But the one description that stood out most was that of a local shopowner in the village:

Tony was your typical country guard.

In one sentence she summed up what everyone in the community had been saying since they heard of the tragedy.

They all had a small example of something he had done for them or a conversation they had with him in the course of his work. He had a strong presence in this community and made a difference in ways he probably never fully knew.

Some spoke of his contribution to the community alerts programme, others just wanted to talk about what a lovely manner he had about him all the time and how at ease he could make people feel.

Source: Garda Press Office

One woman recalled speaking to him just a week before his death about the need for stricter speed limits in the area.

The Mayo man was one of those people who everyone just liked, she said.

Cool and collected in his job and always willing to muck in and help in the community. He will be missed.

Read: Killer of Garda Tony Golden was dissident republican with chequered history>

Read: “Tony Golden’s fearlessness and his self-sacrifice led to his loss of life”>

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