Fallen Gardaí honoured at Castlerea ceremony

Marty Horkan, father of the late Detective Garda Colm Horkan, pictured with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and James Browne, Minister for Rural and Community Development. Pic: Mick McCormack

A memorial service took place in Castlerea last Saturday to honour brave Detective Garda Colm Horkan, who was shot dead while on duty in the town on June 17th, 2020.

The ceremony was led by Detective Horkan’s family alongside Garda Commissioner Drew Harris; Assistant Commissioner Barry O’Brien; Superintendent Tom Colsh; Superintendent Goretti Sheridan an Minister of State James Browne.

Members of An Garda Síochána marched from Castlerea Garda Station to the junction of St. Patrick’s Street and Main Street, where Detective Horkan lost his life last June. There, Detective Horkan’s father, Marty, unveiled a plaque in memory of his son.

The plaque was blessed by Castlerea Parish Priest, Fr. John McManus, who had administered last rites to Detective Horkan on that fateful night.

Superintendent Goretti Sheridan, who was the Superintendent in Castlerea on the night of Detective Horkan’s killing, spoke of the devastation among his colleagues following his death and a void that “would never be filled”.

“We gathered at this spot on that night and we were with Colm as he passed away. This is a night that none of us will ever forget,” she said.

Detective Horkan’s colleagues had planted a memorial garden in his memory at Castlerea Garda Station. Garda Commissioner Drew Harris unveiled a plaque at this location in his memory, and that of Detective Garda John Morley and Garda Henry Byrne, who were killed in the line of duty when responding to a bank robbery in Ballaghaderreen on July 7th, 1980.

Assistant Commission Barry O’Brien, reflecting on the qualities of the three men, said they had each demonstrated “courage, integrity, diligence and an overriding sense of duty”.

Paying tribute to Detective Garda Colm Horkan, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said he had devoted his life to the people of Ireland and especially the people of Roscommon and Mayo.

  The Commissioner said: “In a life that was cut short, he had already made a significant impact on the lives of so many people and that’s why his absence has been so strongly felt over the past year and will continue to be felt by those who knew and loved him for many years to come.

“The people in his native Charlestown, a place he was so passionate about, especially his family and the GAA club, the people of Ballaghaderreen, and of Castlerea where he had worked as a Garda for almost 24 years. They have all lost a compassionate voice of comfort and support, and a committed and jovial teammate”.