Detective Garda Colm Horkan was described as one of nature's gentlemen as family, friends and colleagues gathered in Charlestown, Co Mayo, to pay their respects.

Parish Priest Monsignor Tommy Johnston said the gunshots that rang out on Wednesday echoed not just in Castlerea, but right across the country.

He told mourners that when he first heard that a garda from Mayo had died "I thought, I pity the priest who has to do that funeral. Little did I think I would be that priest and that the Detective Garda was Colm".

He described Det Gda Horkan as one of "nature’s gentlemen" and said the hundreds of people who lined the streets of Charlestown as his body was brought back home on Friday was a silent salute for a man whose voice was gentle and approach respectful.

"That gentleness and respect earned the goodwill of so many and endeared him to young and old".

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Msgr Johnston said death brings sadness and grief, but also brings lots of questions.

"In the case of Colm, questions have us wonder why did this tragedy happen, why did Colm die, why was this life which had so much to offer taken away so soon.

"I cannot answer those questions, but it seems when God takes the young he takes only the very best".

He said service is such an apt world to describe Det Gda Horkan "for he truly was a man of service, dedicated and diligent. Colm loved his life as a guard and gave it his complete commitment".

Msgr Johnston said one good thing to have emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic is that it has helped people recognise the importance of our frontline workers, with gardaí very much to the fore in helping to keep the nation safe.

"Long may we be blessed by men and women of true dedication and service, men like Colm Horkan".

Msgr Johnston quoted words written by a friend of Det Gda Horkan: "Colm was a cherished member of our community, a brother to everyone, young and old.  We grew up together, played together and performed in school plays together.

"Now we are in shock and deep mourning.  We are heartbroken for Colm's family, colleagues and many, many friends.

"It will take a long, long time for our community to come to terms with this senseless act of violence against our brother, Colm."

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