‘A GREAT MAN’ Charlestown native, Detective Garda Colm Horkan.
County in shock after killing of popular Charlestown garda
Edwin McGreal, Ger Flanagan and Anton McNulty
The death of a Charlestown garda who was killed in the line of duty last night has ‘left a huge hole in the town’.
Detective Garda Colm Horkan was shot and killed in Castlerea last night after being called to an incident in the town.
Aged 49, Colm Horkan was described as a ‘very popular’ man in his native Charlestown.
Chairman of Charlestown Sarsfields GAA Club Liam Breheny is a first cousin of Det Garda Horkan.
“He was one of the really good guys. From 8-80, he got on so well with everyone and everyone got on so well with him,” Liam told The Mayo News.
“He was the elder statesman of a big family and he was like a big brother to me. Colm was the epitome of what a garda should be. He was straight as a die. It has left a huge hole in the town. He was very popular,” he added.
‘Time for everyone’
Colm was one of seven children of Marty and the late Dolores Horkan from Ballyglass Road in Charlestown. The family run the popular Dew Drop Inn in the town.
His twin sister Collette died from cancer 15 years ago, while his mother Dolores died 17 years ago. Colm would have turned 50 in December.
“The family have had to shoulder a lot of tragedy. It’s so tough. He was as good a man as you could find. It is a huge shock.
“Colm was a great man to give advice and had time for everyone. He was the one lad you would go to for advice, he wouldn’t put you wrong. He was a gentleman and was so liked. He was the apple of all his aunts and uncles’ eyes. He set a high bar for the rest of us! It was such heartbreaking news to receive in the early hours of this morning,” Liam said.
A well-known footballer, Colm Horkan was part of the Charlestown team that won Mayo and Connacht senior club titles in 2001, and he was also part of the Charlestown squad and management that claimed a Mayo senior title in 2009.
He played Under-21 championship football for Mayo in three years, 1989, 1990 and 1991.
Det Garda Horkan had been based in Ballaghaderreen in the Castlerea Garda District and had moved to Castlerea itself in recent weeks.
One man has been arrested in relation to Det Gda Horkan’s killing. He is currently being detained in Castlerea Garda Station and the investigation is ongoing.
In a statement released this morning, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said he and the whole force is shocked by the death of their colleague.
“I am deeply saddened by the death of my colleague Detective Garda Colm Horkan,” the Garda Commissioner said.
“My thoughts and the thoughts of all personnel in An Garda Síochána, are with the family, friends and colleagues of Detective Garda Colm Horkan at Castlerea Garda Station and the Detective Unit he served in.
“Detective Garda Horkan is the 89th member of An Garda Síochána killed in the line of duty. Today is a terrible reminder of the significant sacrifices, including the ultimate sacrifice, that Gardaí make to keep people alive.”
Commissioner Harris thanked the local community in Castlerea and the country for the support shown since the incident occurred last night, and asked any witnesses to come forward.
“The fatal shooting of Detective Garda Colm Horkan remains under investigation. I want to appeal to anyone with information on this incident or witnessed this incident to contact Castlerea Garda Station at 094 9621635.”
‘A tragic day’
Sympathy was extended to Detective Garda Horkan’s family and colleagues at this morning’s sitting of Castlebar District Court where his killing was described as a tragic day for the state.
Judge Fiona Lydon expressed her deepest sympathy on behalf of the District Court in Mayo following the tragic death.
“It is tragic that Detective Horkan lost his precious life in the execution of his duty to protect the people and to protect society. It really is a tragic day for our State,” she said.
President of the Mayo Solicitors’ Bar Association, Dermot Morahan expressed his condolences on behalf of the legal profession. He said Detective Garda Horkan was well known and well respected. He added it was especially sad, as he had only promoted to the rank of detective three weeks ago.
Inspector Naomi de Ris expressed her appreciation for the condolences, saying Detective Horkan’s death was a dreadful shock to his colleagues and the community he served.
The incident, which has left the whole county of Mayo in shock, comes 40 years after the deaths of Garda John Morley and Garda Henry Byrne, who were both murdered whilst on duty in Roscommon in July 1980.
Colm Horkan is predeceased by his mother, Dolores, and twin sister, Collette, and he is mourned by his father, Marty; brothers, Aidan, Brendan, Dermot and Padraig, and sister, Deirdre; family, neighbours, garda colleagues and a wide circle of friends.