Belfast Telegraph

Garda Tony Golden was 'one of life's gentlemen' - State funeral hears as thousands gather

Thousands gathered to pay their last respects

Garda Tony Golden was 'one of life's gentlemen', a state funeral in the Republic of Ireland heard on Thursday afternoon.

Thousands gathered at Saint Oliver Plunkett Church, Blackrock, Co Louth to pay their respects to Garda Golden, the 88th member of the force to be killed in the line of duty.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina were both in attendance, as well as Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and the chief constable of the PSNI.

The Church has seats for just 300 people which were reserved for family members and the official dignitaries. Crowds gathered outside the church and in the local village of Blackrock to watch the funeral on a large screen.

Gardai arrived on buses from all corners of the country.

Father Pádraig Keenan, parish priest of Haggardstown and Blackrock, told mourners of how it is difficult to imagine the grief caused by Garda Tony Golden’s sudden death.

“One cannot imagine the pain and hurt that is experienced by the loss of those who loved Garda Tony,” Father Keenan said.

“Tony quietly let his light shine in so many ways through his life in a very humble way. Amidst our sadness may we be thankful for the charisma of his beautiful but too short life.”

A Ballina Stephanites GAA club jersey and hurley and family photographs were brought to the altar in memory of Garda Golden. A garda colleague, Kevin Cleary, presented some of Garda Golden’s favourite hobbies and snacks – a remote control, a can of Coke, crisps, ‘Drifter’ bar of chocolate and Hunky Dorys.

Father Keenan told mourners of how the news of Garda Tony Golden’s death shattered the county of Louth and beyond on Sunday evening.

“In the stillness of a beautiful Sunday evening, last Sunday, we shared as a nation in the joy of a momentous sporting moment on the playing field of the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff,” he said.

“That stillness was shattered in the picturesque village of Omeath as it became the centre of national and international coverage in light of the tragic events that unfolded.

“The magnitude of what took place brings to mind all those who have been affected in so many ways. 

“Tragically it resulted in the cold blooded murder of Garda Tony Golden in the line of duty.  Murder is evil, murder has no place in our society.  Murder must stop.  All forms of violence must stop.

“We remember in our thoughts and prayers the young woman Siobhan who is seriously injured. 

“Garda Tony is the 88th member of An Garda Síochána who has died protecting our country, our society and our community.

“It is eighty eight members too many. 

“He like all the others is mourned by the entire nation. 

“His murder brings to mind once again all the families and communities that have been affected on our island.”

Mourners heard how North Louth has been affected by the Troubles and how Garda Golden’s death was a harsh reminder of the death of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe, three years ago at Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan.

“Too many hearts have been broken, and lives shattered,” Father Keenan told the church. 

“I say on this day, from the depths of my heart - and I am sure I speak for all people of goodwill - when I say that there is no place for violence in our society, violence is wrong, always wrong.

“As a husband, father, son, brother family member and friend, each and every one of his family circle expressed such love and pride for Tony.

“Tony was one of life’s gentlemen.  As Patrick his brother said to me, “A big gentle giant”, a lovely man. 

“He had a charisma that was calm, gentle and polite, as reflected in our second reading.  

“Tony showed us a way to love that is better than anything else in life.  Tony with Nicola believed in life, a life that gave them hope in the spirit of love. 

“Tony made his time on this earth beautiful in so many ways, and in one’s brokenness, they will be the memories to be always treasured and cherished forever.”

He assured the congregation that Tony’s spirit would be with his three children as they grow up.

Garda Tony Golden was killed in the line of duty on Sunday afternoon as he responded to a domestic incident.

A young woman remains seriously injured in hospital following the shooting.

Irish Independent

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