Flags flew at half-mast in the seaside village of Blackrock and, outside the front door of Garda Tony Golden’s home on the Sandygrove estate, a lone garda stood sentinel.
Now and then, a bright-eyed little girl came out to join him, to gaze at the incongruous sight of lines of people queuing to come into her house.
As the afternoon wore on, the queues grew to hundreds, trailing back down the path and along the broad silent street.
Inside, said a mourner, Tony and Nicola Golden’s three small children were running around, bouncing with their cousins on the trampoline, while Nicola, with her parents and parents-in-law, stood to greet callers who had travelled from all over the country, exchanging memories of a 36-year-old husband, father and son, now lying in an open coffin beside them.
A short walk away on Sandy Lane, John Horan, a volunteer with the Blackrock Tidy Towns Committee marshalled traffic in and out of the community centre, a large building usually the scene of happy occasions, such as family fun days and Confirmation celebrations.
Now it had become the designated parking and refreshment area for mourners.
Denis Hogan and Martin Crotty talked of the huge community mobilisation that took place on Monday morning when it was asked to make the centre available for the vast numbers of gardaí who would be assembling in the area.
Members of the Irish Countrywomen’s Association took a leading role yesterday, providing food and hot drinks for those emerging, many of them shaken and often in tears, from the Goldens’ home.
Among those taking solace there among hundreds of Garda colleagues, were the parents, brother and widow of Garda Adrian Donohoe, who was also shot in the line of duty nearly three years ago.
As Garda colleagues plotted the logistics of a State funeral to be held in a small village with a church capacity of just 300, the sergeant-in-charge at Dundalk Garda station, Brendan Keane, spoke of the role of the Defence Forces in particular, in facilitating the numbers attending the services on Thursday.
The fact that this is a Border area is not lost on anyone, nor is the fact that Garda Golden was murdered by a member of a dissident republican group.
“The Army should never be forgotten here,” said Sgt Keane. “For 24 years, gardaí serving in Border stations, such as Hackballscross, Dromad and Omeath, would have had Army support year-in year-out.”
They were involved in erecting a marquee at the GAA Geraldines club in Haggardstown, where family and close friends can adjourn after Garda Golden’s burial in St Paul’s Cemetery, at Heynestown. A local hotel has been booked to cater for the thousands of gardaí who will escort the cortege.
Back near Tony and Nicola Golden’s home, Denis Henaghan, a retired garda and former unit inspector of Tony Golden, back in his Cabinteely days, talked of a young man who “was diligent to a fault and always wanting to do the right thing . . . No way was he going to leave that girl wanting. Whatever he could do, he would do it. And no way would he leave until it was finished.”