Pictured just yards from where he would later be murdered, Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe was a role model and hero to the children he coached and mentored.
The well-known and respected member of St Patrick's GAA club in Co Louth helped coach seven-year-old footballers.
But his community work also extended into schools, and it was at Bellurgan National School on the picturesque Cooley Peninsula that he treated youngsters to a look around his patrol car.
The 41-year-old — a parent in the school — had been teaching the children their Green Cross Code, oblivious that the credit union just behind him on the other side of the street would be where he would later be killed.
On Sunday night his coffin arrived to the house so that the family might grieve in peace, away from curious eyes.
His grieving young widow Caroline and two small children never got a chance to say a final goodbye to a much-beloved husband and an adored father.
This, then, was their last time to be alone together before the formal ceremony of a much-deserved state funeral.
A garda cordon protected the family home in Lordship, Jenkinstown, from intrusion.
Neighbours, friends and colleagues will have their chance to pay their respects today, but, until then, the family was being left in peace to try and begin the devastatingly painful process of taking in the loss of this real-life hero |father who used to carry his children in to school, one on each shoulder, as they shrieked with joy.
At the big stone barracks in Dundalk where Adrian Donohoe had been stationed, a mass of flowers was growing steadily as the hours went on.
“With very fond memories of Adrian — a wonderful friend and colleague to Dundalk Child Protection Social Work Team,” read a card pinned to one floral tribute.
“Rest in peace Garda Donohoe, our hearts go out to your wife and young family — you were on the Right Side and Right must overcome evil,” read another.
A steady stream of people — ordinary citizens, soldiers from the local battalion, nuns, the young and the old, made their way to the station throughout the day and to the Town Hall in Dundalk to sign books of condolence.
Meanwhile, the garda officer who survived the IRA gun attack that claimed the life of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe — the last officer to be killed in the line of duty — said history has repeated itself. Retired detective Ben O'Sullivan (68) miraculously survived after he was shot 11 times as he sat beside his slain colleague in Adare, Co Limerick, in 1996.
Mr O'Sullivan made a rare visit to Henry Street Garda station in Limerick to sign a book of condolence after Detective Garda Donohoe's murder last Friday.
“It is a tear-jerking exercise this morning.
“It is as sad a day as I have spent since poor Jerry passed away. No words from me would adequately condemn this barbaric crime,” he said.