Here in Mayo, we quake at the death of a garda, because we have known so much tragedy on that front. All good people, all dedicated to putting themselves at risk so that the lives of the general public can be protected. All great men who would have gone on to contribute so much to the communities that loved them.
And now, we gather around another family, and another town, as they sit numbed by another senseless death.
Every night as we sleep, our frontline protectors are out there, minding us in the darkness. Creating a wall of order around us. Risking their lives so we can live ours. Never has this been more obvious than in the past few months when the light of appreciation fell upon those who work silently in the backgrounds making sure we are safe, healthy and secure.
And now as we start exiting the fear of lockdown, a new horror has descended and we mourn the loss of another good man.
Colm Horkan had a Mayo soundness, a desire for fair play, an eagerness to help whatever cause he could, a willingness to pass on advice gained through his 49 years of life in a small Mayo town. The benefit of the sort of upbringing we all had. Where it was assumed you were sound, because it was expected of you. He represented his parish on the football field, winning minor, intermediate, and u21 teams and his passing has left Charlestown in a state of shock. His friend John Casey said last evening that Colm was a guy you would bring to the trenches with you because he would always have your back. Colm loved being a garda and his recent promotion to the detective rank was a moment of great pride to him.
And Wednesday night should just have been another routine shift.
The impact of this shooting will reverberate right throughout the country, because is is an affront to us all. Here in our own county, we have felt the impact of the deaths of Gardai more than other counties. We have lost good men like Tony Golden and Henry Byrne and John Morley and Robert McCallion and their loss has never been made sense of. And neither will this.
Here, we have lost one of our own, a man who laughed and cried with us in the many sporting tribulations along the way, a man whose pure goodness made him an ideal garda, a man whose passing has impacted on his colleagues, leaving them numbed and tearful. But yet tonight, they are starting new shifts and they will encounter new dangers so that life as we know it can go on.
Colm, as a Mayoman keeping law and order in our province, you have done us proud. You were a role model for many others and will continue to be so.
To his family, his father, his siblings, we share their pain, and we thank them for the service Colm gave to us all. We wrap an arm around you in these times when we cannot come together in the numbers Colm deserved.
Now, in our memories, like John and Robert and Tony, Colm will never age. Forever he will be that fresh faced hero who we were proud to say was one of our own. God rest you, god rest you.