Det Garda Colm Horkan to be honoured by local club with memorial pitch

Mayo club unveils plan to honour murdered garda ahead of what would have been 50th birthday

Det  Garda Colm Horkan was revered in his community for his stellar football career.

Det Garda Colm Horkan was revered in his community for his stellar football career.


Detective Garda Colm Horkan, who was murdered while on duty in Co Roscommon earlier this year, is set to be honoured with a memorial pitch at his local GAA club.

Charlestown Sarsfields in Co Mayo has this week unveiled plans to honour the late club member who would have turned 50 this Sunday.

Det Gadra Horkan (49) was shot dead on Main Street, Castlerea, on June 17th. Stephen Silver, of Aughaward, Foxford, Co Mayo, was arrested at the scene and has been charged with capital murder.

Mr Horkan’s younger brother Pádraig said the development of the Colm Horkan Memorial Pitch is a “lovely way to honour his memory”. Det Garda Horkan was revered in his community for his stellar football career and for winning at every grade from Under 8s to the Connacht title. He also coached the Under 10 team up until he died.

He had a “great relationship with everyone in the club”, Pádraig Horkan said, adding: “It is a lovely tribute to him, and as a family we are touched.”

A coach to underage players up until he died, Det Garda Horkan would be proud that the new facilities will benefit young players for generations to come, Pádraig Horkan said.

“He wasn’t really one to be in the limelight; he liked to keep in the background, but I think he would be happy with this,” he added.

The idea for a memorial pitch and walkway came about on the day of Det Garda Horkan’s funeral. Sarsfields club chairman and first cousin of Det Garda Horkan, Liam Breheny, said members of the public quickly “came looking to us to support something”.

Plan drawing of the Colm Horkan Memorial Pitch
Plan drawing of the Colm Horkan Memorial Pitch

“We wanted to find a way to channel that support. It really was people coming to us. They just wanted to be associated with him,” Mr Breheny explained.

“Colm was everything that was right with things. He was such a giant of a person that we felt a plaque or something like that just didn’t seem fitting,” he added.

While some rural clubs in Co Mayo are amalgamating due to declining numbers, Charlestown Sarsfields has grown. There are more players training at senior levels now since people have moved back to the village while working from home in the pandemic. The new all-weather floodlit pitch will help the club cater to its 200 junior players and 170 adult members, Mr Breheny said.

“After being blighted by emigration in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, for once it seems we are going upwards . . . This will allow us to develop and keep with our numbers,” he said.

“In 20 or 30 years’ time when kids are going down to play they will ask if their game is on the front pitch or Colm’s pitch. That is the biggest legacy — that his name will live on,” Mr Breheny added.

As Det Garda Horkan was due to hit a milestone birthday this Sunday, along with his late twin sister Collette, the Horkan family are facing another “tough weekend”, Pádraig Horkan said.

“Christmas couldn’t start and the decorations couldn’t go up until Colm’s birthday was out of the way. He loved his birthday,” he said.

“We have a great community here around us and I am sure we will get together to honour his memory and maybe have a can or two,” he said.

Donations can be made via the Colm Horkan Memorial Pitch website.