'RIP Colm Horkan and Adrian Donohoe': Former classmate pays heartfelt tribute to fallen heroes

Garda John McCarthy was in the same class as Colm Horkan and Adrian Donohoe, who both subsequently died in the line of duty. Here he pays his own heartfelt tribute to both men.

Garda colleagues form a guard of honour and carry the coffin of Detective Garda Colm Horkan from his home in Charlestown to St. James' Church, Charlestown for his funeral mass.
Garda colleagues form a guard of honour and carry the coffin of Detective Garda Colm Horkan from his home in Charlestown to St. James' Church, Charlestown for his funeral mass.

On a sunny summer's day in July 1994, 100 young people from all over Ireland and from all different walks of life, entered through the gates of the Garda college, Templemore.

All of us to take on the same walk through life as members of an Garda Siochana. That group of 100 was divided into 4 classes of 25 and I was fortunate enough to be in the class with Colm Horkan.

As a group from all over the country we had to get on together. We shared the same corridor and therefore we all became friends. We had to do projects, assignments, study and even 5k runs together.

I remember Colm as a quite unassuming guy who regularly had the banter with others in relation about football in Mayo. Fifteen months later, in September 95, we all graduated and were sent to different corners of the country, this time to follow our new path to serve the people of Ireland.

Some of us never met each other since but after 15 months together it's hard to forget from such a small number of 25.

The chances of having one of our class shot to death was 14,500 to one. But it has happened to us, not once, but twice.

You see, the larger than life Adrian Donohoe was also in our class, and he was never going to be forgotten for his wit and humor. It often came at just the right time to lift the mood if you were feeling down or falling behind.

So, when I heard the news on Colm yesterday, as a male Garda, I could not hold back the tears any longer as I thought of my two classmates taken far two soon. One of our class in particular has suffered more than the rest and I'm sure that all of us are thinking of her at this time. I refer to Adrian Donoghue's wife, Caroline.

You see, Caroline was also in our class. I cannot begin to understand what she went through when she lost Adrian, her husband and classmate. And now another classmate is taken far too soon at the hands of a thug and a gun. It brings it all back.

'RIP Colm Horkan and Adrian Donohoe': Former classmate pays heartfelt tribute to fallen heroes
Detective Garda Colm Horkan. RIP. Killed in Castlerea, Co Roscommon, in June 2020.

A lot of people say the guards have it handy. Some of us do, some of the time.

But they do not realise we are Gardai 24/7. You are never really off. If you step out of line while off duty you are still dealt with like you are on duty. You are not allowed to have an opinion in public or go on radio to say what you feel.

As a guard you see some terrible things. You simply cannot avoid dealing with fatal accidents or suicides. You see things you cannot unsee.

I know Colm, like most gardaí, was a people person and earned the respect of all who knew him.

'RIP Colm Horkan and Adrian Donohoe': Former classmate pays heartfelt tribute to fallen heroes
Murdered Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe pictured in action for his beloved St Patrick's GFC. Pic Arthur Kinahan
Yesterday I thought how unlucky our class was to lose two to gunshots. Today I feel so lucky to have been in that class and to have personally known Adrian and Colm.

Our class of 25 is now down to 19, due to others changing careers. I hope we can all meet some day again when we retire, but if not, I know the two lads will be keeping seats for us in the classroom in the sky when we are all duly called.

RIP to Colm and Adrian.

Garda John McCarthy, based in Kilbrittain, was in the same class as Colm Horkan and Adrian Donohoe, who both died in the line of duty.

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