Thousands bid farewell to “our garda” Tony Golden
President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny joined thousands of mourners and gardaí in Blackrock, Co Louth for the State funeral of Garda Tony Golden this afternoon. A father-of-three, Garda Golden was shot dead on Sunday evening as he went to the aid of a woman who was the victim of domestic violence.
Among the thousands paying their respects today were 4,000 serving and retired gardaí, with over half in full uniform.
Garda Golden was remembered as a happy man, proud to serve, a role model for the community – and by his brother Patrick as a “big gentle giant”.
In his homily, chief celebrant parish priest Father Keenan told the congregation that the killing of Garda Golden was “cold-blooded murder”. He reminded the mourners that Garda Golden was the 88th garda to die in the line of duty. He said: “It is 88 members too many. He like all the others is mourned by the entire nation… His murder brings to mind once again all the families and communities that have been affected on our island.”
Fr Keenan said: “Garda Tony’s death once again reflects how north Louth and the Cooley Peninsula have been affected by the tragic history of the Troubles on the island of Ireland, and especially the murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe, three years ago at Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan.”
The stillness of the water across from the churchyard in Dundalk Bay mirrored the silence and sadness that has unfolded on everyone since the weekend, he told the congregation.
Symbols including a family photograph were taken to the altar in memory of Garda Golden. A club jersey and hurley from the Stephenites GAA club in his native Ballina, Co Mayo, represented his roots and love of sport. A television remote control, a soft drink, a bar of chocolate and packet of crisps were offered to recall his cherished “time out”.
Garda Golden’s final journey began this morning from the home in the village of Blackrock he shared with his wife Nicola and their three young children Lucy, Alex and Andrew. The funeral cortège was led by the Garda Commissioner, while thousands of gardaí escorted their colleague into his parish church, St Oliver Plunkett’s for the funeral mass at 12pm.
Other dignitaries attending Garda Golden’s funeral were Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton, as well as political representatives from all parties.
Screens had been erected in the grounds and the village to relay the service to those outside. With businesses shut down along the route as a mark of respect during the funeral, and roads around the village were sealed off for several hours.
President of the Garda Representative Association Dermot O’Brien has said members of the gardaí from all corners of Ireland were travelling to Co Louth to pay their respects to a former colleague today. He said they were grief-stricken and numb. Mr O’Brien said: “They are going to ask themselves, those that attended the same type of call on Sunday that it could have been them. These are very similar calls that a lot of members did on Sunday and they will sit back and reflect on what happened to Tony as they responded to a similar call.”
Garda Golden will be laid to rest at St Paul’s Cemetery Heynestown.