Anthony Golden’s brother Patrick choked back tears during the funeral Mass as he recalled the pair as children growing up.
“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.”
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 cannot 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 gathered outside on the street erupted into a sustained applause.
Such was the turnout for the state funeral that screens were erected in the church grounds and the coastal village of Blackrock to cope with the overspill from the 300-capacity church.
People had travelled from all over the country to pay their respects to the 36-year-old who was gunned down in nearby Omeath on Sunday as he accompanied Siobhán Phillips, aged 21, to collect her belongings from a house she shared with dissident republican suspect Adrian Crevan Mackin.
Crevan Mackin, aged 24, also turned his illegally-held Glock pistol on Ms Phillips, who is fighting for her life in hospital, before killing himself.
Fr Padraig Keenan, chief celebrant and parish priest, told the ceremony at St Oliver Plunkett Church that Mr Golden had a charisma that was “calm, gentle, and polite”.
“As a husband, father, son, brother, family member, and friend, each and every one of his family circle was proud of your loved one Tony,” he said. “Tony was one of life’s gentlemen.
Fr Keenan said Mr Higgins was there representing an entire nation at home and abroad, which was in mourning after the killing of Mr Golden, the 88th member of the force to die in the line of duty. “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. Tony Golden was a much-loved role model in our community.”
Simple symbols including a family photograph were taken to the altar in memory of the officer. A club jersey from the Stephanites Gaelic games club in his native Ballina, Co Mayo, represented his roots and love of sport.
Fr Keenan said the joy of a nation as it was gripped by the Ireland versus France Rugby World Cup qualifier on Sunday was shattered by 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,” he said.
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