The service was attended by colleagues of the father of three and senior members of the force, including commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.
The comments come as family and friends of Garda Golden gather this evening at his home in Blackrock, Co Louth, to comfort his wife Nicola, his young children —Lucy, Alex, and Andrew — as well as his parents Breege and David, and his siblings.
Garda Golden’s state funeral will take place tomorrow at noon at St Oliver Plunkett Church, Blackrock. Thousands of gardaí are expected to gather.
In the Dáil, Taoiseach Enda Kenny led tributes to the 36-year-old. He said the conduct and spirit of Garda Golden reminded him of lines from a Yeats poem, The Song of Wandering Aengus: “And pluck till time and times are done. The silver apples of the moon. The golden apples of the sun.”
A minute’s silence followed in the chamber.
Last Sunday evening, Garda Golden was gunned down at the home of Siobhan Phillips in Omeath by her abusive partner Adrian Crevan Mackin. Ms Phillips, who has two children with Mackin, was also shot repeatedly and is still in a critical condition in hospital.
Speaking before the prayer service at Dundalk Station, Fr Michael Cusack of St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Dundalk said: “For Tony and his family, it is an appalling tragedy; for the Garda Síochána and for the colleagues it must be demoralising.
“Imagine your own children... the thought that they will never be hugged by their father again is a dreadful thing that anyone could do to another human being.”
Church of Ireland garda chaplain Archdeacon David Pierpoint said that he knew Nicola: “Everybody is hurting, the whole community is hurting and garda’s family is hurting and of course for Nicola and her children, it’s just devastating.”
Fr Cusack made similar comments about garda cutbacks that he expressed during the state funeral mass of Det Garda Adrian Donohoe in January 2013.
“Things have to be looked at, things have to be examined, particularly in this area,” he told RTÉ. “I think possibly the issue of manpower, I think the staffing of the whole garda setup along the border.”
He said: “The group that are looking after the border, they’re still finding themselves having to go out on their own, and that’s male or female guards. That they do willingly, but I wonder should they be doing it on their own.”
He added: “I think the staffing levels need to be upped and the commitment financially needs to be upped. One life gone is one life too many and that sorrow being visited on the Golden family isn’t a sorrow that anyone can wipe away by any financial move or anything else.”
Hundreds of tributes and expressions of condolences were posted online in memory of Garda Golden.