Family and friends of a murdered Irish police officer are struggling to comprehend their loss, it has been revealed.
Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe, a 41-year-old father-of-two was gunned down as he confronted armed robbers at Lordship Credit Union in rural Co Louth on Friday night.
Parish priest Fr Paidraig Murphy, who was at the scene minutes after the shooting, has spent the weekend trying to comfort his widow Caroline - also a Garda officer - and two young children Amy and Niall.
He said: "Like anybody, how do you cope in a situation like that. They are gradually coming to terms with it. They have had great support from colleagues and the local community but, there is still a human element - there is a wife, Caroline who has lost her husband and children who have lost their father."
In an online death notice the dedicated policing family said Det Garda Donohoe was a beloved husband and adored father who would be forever missed. It read: "Formerly County Cavan. Beloved husband of Caroline and adored dad of Amy and Niall. He will be forever missed by his beloved wife, daughter, son, parents Peggy and Hugh, parents-in-law Bridie and Stephen, sisters Mary and Anne, brothers Colm, Martin and Alan, brothers-in-law Derek, Kieran and John, sister-in-law Angela, nephews, nieces, relatives and friends."
A funeral service is expected to take place at St Joseph's Church, Dundalk on Wednesday. Fr Murphy said the whole community was stunned by the cold-blooded killing. He added: "It is like a dark cloud has descended on our parish. People are genuinely shocked and bewildered. Because he had been here for the last number of years and his children attend the local school, I think, makes it all the more poignant. He was known as a local. He was a big man with a big heart."
At St Patrick's Gaelic Athletics Club in Lordship, where Adrian Donohoe helped coach seven-year-old footballers, a flag was flown at half mast. A book of condolence was also opened and dozens of friends, neighbours and sporting colleagues congregated inside to remember the popular police officer who died protecting their community.
"As a community we are just numb, shocked and saddened. He was well loved and well respected. Adrian was a shining light - he gave of his own time even though he had young children. The harshness of the gang responsible is the opposite to what he stood for. They are cold, callous and gave no thought to the mess and void that has been left for the family and in this community."
Originally from Co Cavan, Detective Garda Donohoe came from a proud policing family. As as well as his wife, two of his brothers Alan and Martin also serve in the force. Earlier, Garda sources said the four-man armed gang had escaped with 4,000 euro. Det Garda Donohoe was blasted in the head seconds after he stepped out of his car and did not have time to draw his police issue weapon. The gang had been lying in wait for the isolated Credit Union to close. They would have known that a Garda escort unit would have been in attendance. The crime scene at Bellurgan, Jenkinstown, near the border with Northern Ireland, remains sealed off as Gardai continued evidential examinations.
It has emerged that a burnt out car - possibly a Volkswagen Passat - was being examined by forensic teams in Northern Ireland. The vehicle was found close to Keady in south Armagh - just a few miles across the border from Co Louth. Detectives suspect that the same cross border criminal gang which stole 62,000 euro from the Lordship Credit Union over a year ago may have been behind Friday night's murder. It has also been revealed that after shooting Detective Garda Donohoe in the head they held his colleague Detective Garda Joe Ryan at gunpoint while they carried out the raid.