Thousands bid farewell to 'our garda' Tony Golden

Update 3.30pm Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan said the Garda family has been grief-stricken since Sunday evening and Tony Golden will be mourned by every member of the force.

“We reacted like any other family faced with this tragedy, we were filled with disbelief, filled with the need to roll back time and stop it happening,” Ms O’Sullivan said.

“Filled with anger and then filled with grief so consuming that men and women, newcomers, retired members and those on the verge of retirement wept without shame for a friend and a colleague lost to us.”

Thousands bid farewell to 'our garda' Tony Golden

Update 2.15pm: The State funeral of Garda Tony Golden has ended. Some mourners are now making their way to a private family burial at St Paul's in Heynestown.

In an emotional tribute, Mr Golden's brother Patrick choked back tears as he recalled the pair as children growing up together.

“I always looked up to Tony in every way, he made me feel so secure and protected, always looked out for me and made sure I was never led astray,” he said.

“This was Tony’s nature and how he treated all his family and friends, in the same way.

“He made Nicola and his children feel the same way over the last eight or nine years and the same applies to the communities where he was stationed as a garda.”

The funeral procession of Garda Tony Golden passes through Blackrock village
The funeral procession of Garda Tony Golden passes through Blackrock village

This was shown by his bravery on Sunday as he “lost his life in an attempt to protect two others”, he said.

Patrick said he was almost speechless when thinking about what he would say about his brother.

“Some words immediately come to mind: such as hero, gentle giant, family man, caring, rock and idol.

“But these words can not explain how good the man was and how much we all loved him.”

He added: “Still today I’m so proud to stand here and call him my big brother, it was such a short life but he achieved so much in that time.”

After bidding his last goodbye to a “brother, husband, father, son, and hero”, the congregation packed inside the church and thousands outside on the street erupted into a sustained applause.

Update 1pm: In his homily before the thousands gathered for the funeral Mass of garda Tony Golden, Fr Pádraig Keenan said that violence had broken too many hearts in the Louth area, and it was time it stopped.

He said: “Too many hearts have been broken, and lives shattered.

Nicola Golden, wife of murdered Garda Tony Golden, as the funeral procession arrives.
Nicola Golden, wife of murdered Garda Tony Golden, as the funeral procession arrives.

“I say on this day, from the depths of my heart - and I am sure I speak for all people of goodwill - when I say that there is no place for violence in our society, violence is wrong, always wrong.”

Remembering Garda Golden, he said he was happy and proud to be a garda, first in Cabinteely in Dublin, and for the last six years in Omeath.

“Tony was so proud to serve the community of Omeath,” he said. “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 - proud of everything he lived for, worked for and stood for.

Crowds line the streets of Blackrock to watch the funeral on a large screen. Pic: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Crowds line the streets of Blackrock to watch the funeral on a large screen. Pic: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

“…Tony showed us a way to love that is better than anything else in life.”

Fr Keenan went on: “That same sentiment - being proud - was echoed by Nicola, his heartbroken wife, when the body of her husband was brought to the family home on Tuesday afternoon.

Thousands bid farewell to 'our garda' Tony Golden

“As a husband, father, son, brother family member and friend, each and every one of his family circle expressed such love and pride for Tony.

Thousands bid farewell to 'our garda' Tony Golden

“Tony was one of life's gentlemen; as Patrick his brother said to me, "A big gentle giant", a lovely man. He had a charisma that was calm, gentle and polite…Tony showed us a way to love that is better than anything else in life.

“Tony with Nicola believed in life, a life that gave them hope in the spirit of love. Tony made his time on this earth beautiful in so many ways, and in one's brokenness, they will be the memories to be always treasured and cherished forever.

Nicola Golden, wife of murdered Garda Tony Golden, as the funeral procession arrives.
Nicola Golden, wife of murdered Garda Tony Golden, as the funeral procession arrives.

“There was still much to be fulfilled, especially watching and guiding Lucy, Alex and Andrew through their life's story, but we trust that his spirit will be with each of you as you continue to walk this earth.”

Fr Keenan ended his homily with a verse from the John O'Donohue poem ‘On the death of the beloved’.

Tony:

May you continue to inspire us:

to enter each day with a generous heart,

to serve the call of courage and love.

Until we see your beautiful face again,

in that land where there is no separation,

where all tears will be wiped from our mind,

and where we will never lose you again.

The coffin of Garda Tony Golden is carried into St Oliver Plunkett Church
The coffin of Garda Tony Golden is carried into St Oliver Plunkett Church

Update 12.33pm:The chief celebrant at the funeral Mass of murdered garda Tony Golden has told the thousands attending that garda Golden “quietly let his light shine in so many ways through his life in a very humble and quiet way”.

Garda Golden was shot dead last Sunday.

Fr Pádraig Keenan, parish priest of Haggardstown and Blackrock, Co Louth added: “Amidst our sadness may we be thankful for the charisma of his beautiful, but too short life.”

He said the pain of his passing was acute for garda Golden’s family, including his “heartbroken wife Nicola, Lucy, Alex and Andrew, parents Breege and David, brothers David, Kenneth, Patrick and Sean and his sister Mary”.

The 36-year-old was shot dead on Sunday as he helped domestic violence victim Siobhan Phillips to retrieve her belongings from her home in Omeath. The gunman Adrian Mackin then turned the gun on himself, and also died.

Siobhan Phillips remains seriously ill in hospital.

President Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny will join Tony Golden's family and thousands of Garda officers for the funeral Mass in St Oliver Plunkett Church, Blackrock at noon.

The church has only 300 seats, which are reserved for family, loved ones and dignitaries. Outdoor screens will be made available on the church grounds.

The funeral cortege will make its way to the church from the family home, where garda Golden lived with his wife Nicola and his three young children Lucy, Alex and Andrew.

Thousands bid farewell to 'our garda' Tony Golden

Thousands of uniformed gardaí will escort his hearse and several hundred more retired and serving members of the force will attend the service.

President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Enda Kenny along with the Garda Commissioner and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald are among the 300 people gathering inside the church while thousands more will watch on screens outside and in Blackrock village.

Flags on public buildings across the country are at half mast and all Dáil and Seanad business has been suspended as a mark of respect.

The Golden family have asked that instead of flowers, donations be made to the North Louth Hospice and Homecare Foundation.

After requiem Mass, Tony Golden will be laid to rest in a private burial at St Paul's Cemetery in Heynestown.

Full text of homily by Fr Pádraig Keenan:

“In the stillness of a beautiful Sunday evening, last Sunday, we shared as a nation in the joy of a momentous sporting moment on the playing field of the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. That stillness was shattered in the picturesque village of Omeath as it became the centre of national and international coverage in light of the tragic events that unfolded.

“The magnitude of what took place brings to mind all those who have been affected in so many ways. Tragically it resulted in the cold blooded murder of Garda Tony Golden in the line of duty. Murder is evil, murder has no place in our society. Murder must stop. All forms of violence must stop.

“We remember in our thoughts and prayers the young woman Siobhan who is seriously injured. Garda Tony is the 88th member of An Garda Síochána who has died protecting our country, our society and our community. It is eighty eight 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.

“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 O'Donohoe, three years ago at Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan.

“Too many hearts have been broken, and lives shattered. I say on this day, from the depths of my heart - and I am sure I speak for all people of goodwill - when I say that there is no place for violence in our society, violence is wrong, always wrong.

“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, dedication and commitment, the men and women of An Garda Síochána give to the people of this island.

“Garda Tony was very happy in the walk of life he had chosen, initially in Cabinteely in Dublin, and for the last six years in Omeath. Tony was so proud to serve the community of Omeath. 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 - proud of everything he lived for, worked for and stood for. Tony Golden was a much loved role model in our community.

“That same sentiment - being proud - was echoed by Nicola, his heartbroken wife, when the body of her husband was brought to the family home on Tuesday afternoon. As a husband, father, son, brother family member and friend, each and every one of his family circle expressed such love and pride for Tony. Tony was one of life's gentlemen. As Patrick his brother said to me, "A big gentle giant", a lovely man. He had a charisma that was calm, gentle and polite, as reflected in our second reading. Tony showed us a way to love that is better than anything else in life. Tony with Nicola believed in life, a life that gave them hope in the spirit of love. Tony made his time on this earth beautiful in so many ways, and in one's brokenness, they will be the memories to be always treasured and cherished forever.

“There was still much to be fulfilled, especially watching and guiding Lucy, Alex and Andrew through their life's story, but we trust that his spirit will be with each of you as you continue to walk this earth. Tony's light shone on this earth in so many ways, may his heavenly light guide all of you that your light will continue to shine in the present and in the future. May I quote from the poem On the death of the beloved, by John O'Donohue, and conclude with the words of his final verse, Tony:

“May you continue to inspire us:

to enter each day with a generous heart,

to serve the call of courage and love.

Until we see your beautiful face again,

in that land where there is no separation,

where all tears will be wiped from our mind,

and where we will never lose you again.”

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