An Irish police officer was remembered by his family as a "rock" and the "glue that held it all together" at his funeral yesterday at noon in Charlestown, Co Mayo.
Hundreds of gardai from Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon divisions gathered in the town to pay their last respects to Detective Garda Colm Horkan, who was killed on Wednesday night in Castlerea, Co Roscommon.
His funeral took place in St James' Church in Charlestown, where he was baptised, made his First Communion and Confirmation.
In an emotional tribute his brother Brendan Horkan said the detective was "cut down in the prime of his life doing the job he loved".
"He was a rock in our family, glue that held it all together.
"Colm was a gem. A son and brother like no other. A wonderful brother and uncle."
He said the Charlestown native was "kind, considerate, selfless and above all loyal to the core".
Mr Horkan said the journey home from the post-mortem examination "tugged at heartstrings" as "communities lined the roads and streets".
"Mine and my family's emotions are in turmoil at this time. He was a man who made our lives so much better. Today is such a horrible and nonsensical event.
"Reality hit us square in the face."
He added that the officer was "a man of sheer class" which must mean "a seat for him at the top table".
"Our loss is heaven's gain.
"Today, we say goodbye to a giant who brought joy and happiness to us all for 49 fantastic years," he added.
Mr Horkan's coffin was carried up Chapel Street by his four brothers before members of An Garda Siochana stepped in to bear their colleague.
Castlerea Garda Station Superintendent Goretti Sheridan announced a nationwide minute's silence at the altar at noon and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar paid his respects at Garda Headquarters, while President Michael D Higgins held a vigil at Aras an Uachtarain in Phoenix Park.
Mourners heard chief celebrant of the Mass and parish priest Monsignor Tommy Johnston describe him as "a good man, one of nature's gentlemen, that and more".
"One of the good things that have emerged from Covid-19 is that it has helped us to recognise the importance of our front line workers and up there, very much to the fore, are our guards helping to keep the nation safe."
Fr Johnston also included a tribute written by an unnamed friend in his homily.
"Colm was a cherished member of our community, a brother to everyone, young and old. We grew up together, played together and performed in school plays together."
He said that the community is in "shock and deep mourning".
"We are heartbroken for Colm's family, colleagues and many, many friends.
"It will take a long, long time for our community to come to terms with this senseless act of violence against our brother, Colm."
The Mass began with Fr Johnston stating that Det Horkan was "a man of goodness".
His brother Dermot spoke tearfully at the altar as gifts were brought up.
A Garda notebook was among the gifts, to symbolise Mr Horkan's service, as well as a Charlestown Jersey in green and white and his car keys as he had a "great passion for cars". A CD was also brought up as the detective loved music, concerts and was "always in the queue for tickets at Ticketmaster".
There was a family photo too, symbolising the "strong bond" he had enjoyed with his loved ones.
His "love for fashion" was represented by a Tommy Hilfiger shirt, and his Liverpool tie pin - You'll Never Walk Alone - "summed up Colm perfectly".
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan as well as Garda Commissioner Drew Harris attended the funeral.
In accordance with Government guidelines due to the pandemic, 25 family members and relatives were inside the church, including the minister and the commissioner.
Mr Harris said Garda Detective Horkan "epitomised what all of us as members of An Garda Siochana should strive to be".
"His policing service was characterised by hard work and diligence."
While he said that his death was a "heavy blow" to An Garda Siochana, Roscommon and Mayo communities have supported the force.
"The outpouring of condolences and support in response to Colm's death and the shocking manner of his death has supported all of us in An Garda Siochana," he added. "Those of us who continue to serve can honour Colm's legacy. May he rest in peace," he concluded, which was met with clapping from gardai standing outside the church.
A private burial at the cemetery adjoining the church took place after the Mass.