'A hero, a gentle giant, a rock, an idol... you will never be forgotten'

Garda Tony Golden was laid to rest today in Louth with thousands of his garda colleagues in attendance.


As a child growing up I always looked up to Tony in every way. He made me feel so secure and protected. He always looked out for me. He would go out of his way to make sure I was always safe.

GARDA TONY GOLDEN, or ‘Tonester’ to his friends, made everyone he met with feel safe. He was strong and dependable, kind and gentle.

At his funeral mass today in the village of Blackrock, county Louth, mourners heard his brother Patrick describe him as a “hero, gentle giant, family man, caring, rock and idol”. His ability to make those around him feel safe was seen on the evening he was killed.

“He lost his life in his attempt to protect two others – and it cost him dearly,” his brother told the congregation, fighting back his tears.

Niall Carson Niall Carson

Eight years ago, Tony made me so proud 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’m still so proud to stand here and call him my big brother. Such a short life, but he’s achieved so much during that time. From sporting achievements, where he graced Croke Park, to his marriage to Nicola and the birth of his three beautiful children.

At the beginning of the service, symbols of the man’s ordinary life had been brought to the alter – a GAA jersey representing his love for hurling, a family photo and some items that parish priest Pádraig Keenan said were part of his “time out”; his remote control, a can of Coke, a Drifter bar and a packet of Hunky Doreys.

A strong blue line


The streets of the small village of Blackrock, where the Mayo man had called home, were lined with colleagues. 4,000 of them who had travelled from all over the country to pay tribute to him. The image of a strong blue line was reminiscent of scenes more than two years ago when the Louth division lost another member of their family, Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe.

Golden is the 88th member of the force to be killed in the line of duty - 88 people too many, Father Keenan pointed out.

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.

‘We wept without shame’

As the sun broke through the clouds outside the church and shone on Garda Golden’s colleagues, Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan spoke of a grief so consuming in the last few days that men and women in the force, young and old, “wept without shame for a colleague lost to us”.

A humble man, she said he would be “mortified” to be the centre of attention but it is important that he be remembered.

And he will be, she said. His colleagues will carry him with them. They will think of him as they wait for the kettle to boil and at lonely rural checkpoints.

Garda Tony Golden funeral Nicola Golden (centre) wife of murdered Garda Tony Golden, at St Oliver Plunkett Church, in Blackrock, Co. Louth. PA WIRE PA WIRE

His young children Lucy, Alex and Andrew, may need help remembering their father, O’Sullivan told mourners.

They’ll want to remember “being hefted onto the shoulders of their big daddy”.

The sound of his car arriving outside and the excitement of rushing to tell him all the things that were so important that day.

Tony showed the people in his life a way to love that is better than anything else in life, Father Keenan said.

Tony, with Nicola, believed in life, a life that gave them hope in the spirit of love.  Tony made his time on this earth beautiful in so many ways, and in one’s brokenness, they will be the memories to be always treasured and cherished forever.

Read: One of life’s gentlemen: ‘Tony made his time on this earth beautiful in so many ways’>

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