A year has passed since the death of Detective Garda Colm Horkan, and his loss weighs heavily on all who knew and loved him.
is daddy Marty struggles to find words to describe how great he was and is immensely proud of his oldest son.
A year has passed since Marty received the heartbreaking news that Colm had taken to his family, friends, colleagues and community.
He was killed in the line of duty in the early hours of June 18, in the main street of Castlerea.
Today, colleagues from Colm gathered to pay their respects, along with two other colleagues Garda Henry Byrne and Detective John Morley, who were killed in the line of duty 41 years ago.
Marty Horkan unveiled a plaque dedicated to Colm where he was shot.
A second plaque was unveiled by Commissioner of the Guard Drew Harris outside Castlerea station dedicated to Colm, Henry Byrne and John Morley.
Thinking back to last year, Marty shakes his head almost as if he still can’t believe it all happened.
“Mourning, mourning, mourning, I miss him terribly. He was a lovely guy, absolutely, a true gentleman. He really was.
Wiping the tears from his eyes, Marty adds, “I’m not saying that because he was my son.”
Over the past year, the Horkan family have heard countless stories about Colm’s positive impact on those around him with his kindness, respect and innate goodness.
“So many people came to see us from this area (Castlerea) and Ballaghadereen, they came to the house and told us how kind and good he was.
“He was out during the pandemic, even though he was a detective, he was around calling the old people, see if they were okay. He was the kind he was.
“The amount of mass bouquets – if anyone was ever to be in Heaven, they should,” he said softly.
“Thousands and thousands, from all over Ireland, we have received mass bouquets and letters from people, supplementing the guards.
Marty believes Colm’s death made people appreciate gardaí and their public service, which tragically saw 89 members pay the ultimate price.
“When we sleep at night, they are there to protect us.
“For me, it woke up a lot of people,” he says.
The Horkan, Byrne and Morley families have come together, united in mutual respect and understanding the terrible toll of their inexplicable loss.
The support received from the large Garda family and their community helped the Horkan.
Marty found the anniversary “very difficult”, but expresses his gratitude to Colm Garda colleagues and his own community.
“They paid him a great tribute here. And the guards were wonderful with us, I have to say.
“Barry O’Brien (Assistant Commissioner) came to see us at the house yesterday for two hours.
“Two of our local guys who are guards came over, and the jokes we had with Barry were just lovely.
“Today, it’s wonderful to think about what the gardaí are doing.
“The way people supported us, in our own field, the football club, what they did for us is unreal.
“It’s the beauty of living in the country rather than in the city,” he says.
“The night he was shot, my son’s partner is a sergeant in Ballaghadereen, they got the word (the first one).
“When they landed here he was still on the street and the ambulance picked him up.
“They came home; it was 1:30 a.m. and our house at 3 a.m., and the neighborhood was packed with people. Word got out, and people started to come. People came all night. We had great support.
Speaking at the unveiling, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said it was a solemn day and a day that celebrates the heroic life of Detective Garda Colm Horkan.
He said Colm enjoyed being a member of the Garda Síochána and had dedicated his life to the Irish people and in particular to the people of Roscommon and Mayo.
“Colm Horkan served the people of Roscommon for 24 years between Castlerea and Ballaghaderreen.
“He was honest, he had integrity, he had a good work ethic and he had a community spirit.
“He loved being a member of a Garda Síochana, serving the people and communities here and in Ballaghdereen.
“Maybe he knew he would be a perfect fit for An Garda Síochana, and that’s what guided him to a life in public service.
Detective Garda Colm Horkan dedicated his life to the Irish people, especially the people of Roscommon and Mayo.
“In a life that was cut short, he had already had a significant impact on the lives of so many. And that is why his absence has been felt so strongly over the past year and will continue to be felt by those who knew and loved him for many years to come.
Commissioner Harris said that a hero is a term sometimes used loosely, but to paraphrase poet Maya Angelou he said: “I think a hero is a person who is really determined to make this place a better place. for everyone.”
“We know from the outpouring of heartache that followed Colm’s death, stories of compassion and kindness, expressions of love and appreciation that Colm was truly a hero.
Colm died trying to make this country a better place.
And in his final act, he challenged fear and embodied the bravery that An Garda Síochana members demonstrate on a daily basis.
It is this bravery, along with his decency, loyalty, and courage in life that now defines him in death.