Detective Garda Colm Horkan was cut down in the prime of his life while doing the job that he loved and serving his country, his State funeral has heard.
The 49-year-old was buried on Sunday afternoon in the graveyard adjoining St James's Church following a service in his hometown of Charlestown, Co Mayo.
Det Garda Horkan was killed on Wednesday night when he was shot a number of times while responding to an incident in Castlerea, Co Roscommon. Stephen Silver (43), of Aughaward, Foxford, Co Mayo, was remanded in custody on Friday night charged with his murder.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris told the Mass heard that Det Gda Horkan "epitomised what all of us as members of An Garda Síochána should strive to be".
“His policing service was characterised by his hard work and his diligence,” Mr Harris said, before promising the Horkan family they will always have the force’s support.
Ahead of the service, Det Gda Horkan’s remains were removed from his home in Charlestown, which he shared with his father Marty, and brought to the church in a procession led by a Garda motorcycle honour guard, his family and members of the local Sarsfields GAA club. The entire route was lined with some 800 gardaí from the Roscommon/Longford and Mayo Divisions. His coffin, draped with a Tricolour, was carried into the church side by members of the regional Ceremonial Unit.
Social distancing protocols meant the numbers in the church were limited to Det Gda Horkan’s immediate family along with Mr Harris and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan. Det Garda Horkan’s extended family and his local colleagues viewed the service on a large screen outside the church while about 1,000 members of the community gathered at the nearby GAA club where it was also broadcast.
In his homily, Monsignor Tommy Johnson said after hearing a garda had been shot dead he pitied the priest who would have to do the funeral.
“Little did I think I would be that priest and that the Detective Garda was Colm.” He said Det Garda Horkan “was a good man, one of nature’s gentlemen, that and more”.
He said the gunshots that rang out on Wednesday “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” .
Symbols representing Det Gda Horkan’s life were presented during the ceremony including a Sarsfield’s jersey, a garda notebook and his car keys.
“He loved his Audi and it shined just like him,” his brother Dermot said.
A Tommy Hilfiger shirt, representing “his love for fashion and always looking his best”, and a CD representing his love for music were also presented.
During the ceremony Det Garda Horkan’s hat and gloves and a photograph of him at the Garda College in Templemore were placed on his coffin.
Decent human being
Brendan Horkan said his brother had “all the values you would associate with a good a decent human being”.
“He was kind, considerate, selfless and above all, loyal to the core. He was a rock in our family. The man that was the glue that held it all together. He seldom ever made a bad decision and lived his life by the book,” he said.
Mr Horkan added that his brother “provided the template” on how one should live life and get the most out of each and every day.
“Colm commanded respect wherever he went. Time spent in his company was precious; there was always a laugh and a joke to be had with that disarming smile that could lighten up a room and brighten up many a dark hour or day,” he said. “He loved life and lived it up the best way he knew how.”
Mr Horkan became emotional as he remembered the communities in towns across Mayo that came out to greet the family as they drove home after his brother’s postmortem took place in Castlebar.
“One thing is for sure: he leaves a legacy of wonderful memories, which we will cherish and hold dear in our hearts forever as we say goodbye to a giant who brought such joy and happiness to us all for the 49 fantastic and brilliant years he was here.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony Mr Harris presented the Tricolour to Marty Horkan. Det Garda Horkan’s remains were buried in the adjoining ceremony as Garda musicians played The Last Post.