Within the last hour or so, An Garda Siochana has released the name of the guard who was shot and killed on duty last night in Castlerea. His name was Colm Horkan. Any death, especially in this manner, is a great tragedy, but Horkan's loss will be felt deeply in the GAA community around Mayo and Sligo.
Horkan - who earned the affectionate nickname the 'The Bear' on the GAA pitch - was a very active member of Charlestown Sarsfields GAA club, which is literally on the Mayo-Sligo border. Charlestown is Tom Parsons's and John Casey's club and Horkan was actively involved in the GAA community there, both as a player and a supporter.
Colm played U21 for Mayo for three years and was a fixture in the Charlestown team that won Connacht in 2001. He was also involved in the Charlestown team that won the Mayo title in 2009.
This year, Colm presented the inaugural Delores Horkan Memorial Shield - an East Mayo minor football trophy named for his mother, who was a passionate Charlestown supporter.
Many well-known personalities in Mayo and Sligo GAA extended their sympathies this morning on social media.
Charlestown Sarsfields GAA Club have been left devastated by the untimely and tragic death of our friend and brother, Colm Horkan.
A very dark cloud hangs over Fr O’Hara Park and our entire community today.
Ar dheist Dé go raibh a anam dílis. pic.twitter.com/oIXRSnWI1z
— Charlestown GAA (@CharlestownGAA) June 18, 2020
To our friend, team mate and rock. Dectective @colmhork01 . Taken way too soon. Our club @CharlestownGAA and Community are broken.💔💔💔 rest easy Bear
— John casey (@Johncasey14mayo) June 18, 2020
Jesus this is shocking news ..knew Colm growing up through GAA and nights out in Charlestown, he was such a lovely fella.
My deepest sympathies to his family, to his friends, all his @GardaTraffic colleagues & all the in @CharlestownGAA
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis. https://t.co/xmBxQEQmID
— Eamonn O’ Hara (@EamonnOHara8) June 18, 2020
Anyone who knew Garda Colm Horkan liked him. That broad smile was never off his face. A genuinely warm, positive and fun-loving man. Always a buzz when you met him. A real cornerstone of #mayogaa removed too young and without rhyme or reason. May he rest in peace.
— Liam Horan (@HoranLiam) June 18, 2020
@CharlestownGAA sympathies to all in Charlestown...so sad.
— james kilcullen (@jameskilcullen1) June 18, 2020
Garda commissioner Drew Harris released a statement after the death was confirmed saying:
"I am deeply saddened by the death of my colleague Detective Garda Colm Horkan.
"My thoughts, and the thoughts of all personnel in An Garda Síochána, are with the family, friends and colleagues of Detective Garda Colm Horkan at Castlerea Garda Station and the Detective Unit he served in."
"Detective Garda Colm Horkan is the 89th member of An Garda Síochána killed in the line of duty. Today is a terrible reminder of the significant sacrifices, including the ultimate sacrifice, that Gardaí make to keep people safe."
We extend our own sympathies to everyone in Charlestown and beyond who would have known Colm. RIP.
UPDATE: This evening GAA President John Horan released a statement about Colm's tragic death:
The strength of the GAA is based on the strength of our volunteers and the commitment they make to serve their community, and Colm Horkan had those selfless qualities in abundance. He is fondly remembered by his friends in Charlestown Sarsfields GAA club where he not only played, but where he continued to help and serve in a wide range of roles off the field.
His commitment to others came naturally to him, and was an obvious asset in his role as a Garda.
On behalf of the GAA, our deepest condolences to his family, his club, his community and the membership of An Garda Síochana.