The late Garda Tony Golden, who was killed in the line of duty last Sunday, was laid to rest yesterday in St Paul's Cemetery, Heynestown, County Louth, following his funeral Mass which took place in St Oliver Plunkett's Church in Blackrock. Garda Golden, who was a native of Ballina, was given a State funeral which was attended by thousands of mourners including President Michael D Higgins and An Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Other dignitaries who attended his funeral included Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan, political representatives from all parties, the chaplains to the Garda and the Defence Forces, Bishop of Killala John Fleming, and Father Gerard O'Hora, Parish Priest of Ballina.
Garda Golden, who was a native of Culleens on the Killala Road in Ballina, was the third eldest of a family of six children. He was married to his wife Nicola and they had three young children, Lucy, Alex, and Andrew. He was shot dead in the line of duty last Sunday evening while he was assisting a woman after a domestic incident. The chief celebrant of the funeral Mass, Father Pádraig Keenan, said that Garda Golden was one of life's gentlemen and was a happy man, proud to serve, a role model for the community.
Beginning the funeral Mass, Fr Keenan said that Garda Golden had "let his light shine in so many ways through his life in a very humble way" and "amidst our sadness may we be thankful for the charisma of his beautiful but too short life." He went on to say: "Tony was so proud to serve the community of Omeath", and, "As one person from Omeath put it to me in recent days, he was 'our garda', and to a person amongst his family and colleagues, all are immensely proud of Garda Tony and his selfless nature." He added: "Proud of everything he lived for, worked for and stood for, Tony Golden was a much-loved role model in our community."
Fr Keenan went on to say that “As a Guardian of the Peace, Garda Tony was doing his duty on behalf of our State and all of society. In that spirit he was assisting a member of the public, giving her protection, guarding her peace. It portrays the unique nature of the role, profession and dedication and commitment, the men and women of An Garda Síochána give to the people of this island.”
A number of momemtos were brought to the alter during the Mass, including a family photograph a Ballina Stephenites GAA jersey and other items. Thousands of current and former gardaí attended the funeral, with the Garda Representative Organisation (GRA ) putting on buses to transport colleagues of Garda Golden so they could pay their last respects to Garda Golden. The church which only had seating for 300 people which was reserved for family and official dignitaries, so large screens were set up outside so the thousands who attended the funeral could watch the service. The two readings at the funeral were read by Garda Golden’s brothers Kenneth and David, with the post Communion reflection being read by another of his brothers Patick.