'Tony always made me feel so secure and protected'
Hero, gentle giant, family man, rock and idol. It was with these words that a brother of Tony Golden brought more than 4,000 gardai at his funeral to a hushed silence yesterday.
In the parish church in the quiet seaside town of Blackrock, Co Louth, Patrick Golden painted a picture of his older brother as a protector - doing exactly that when he was gunned down protecting a vulnerable mother and victim of abuse.
"These words cannot explain how good a man he was, and how much we all love him," he said.
"As a child growing up, I always looked up to Tony in every way. He made me feel so secure and protected. He always looked out for me and ensured I was never led astray," he added.
As he spoke, the lines of gardai in the churchyard dropped their heads in reflection.
"He would go out of the way to ensure I was always safe. This was Tony's nature, as he treated all his family and friends in the same way," said Patrick, holding back tears from the altar of St Oliver Plunkett Church.
"Tony has made Nicola and the children feel the same way over the last eight to nine years. The same applies to the communities in which he has been stationed as a garda," he added.
His words echoed all the way up the main street of the pretty town through loudspeakers and large video screens erected so that everyone could see the funeral Mass.
"Tony was a great family man and father. He adored Nicola and his children. He cared for Lucy, Alex and Andrew in such a loving way - just as he was reared by our mum and dad," he said. "The qualities Tony possessed were nurtured in our family home."
With his voice shaking, Patrick bade goodbye to his brother.
"Goodbye Anthony, my brother - husband, father, son and hero."
Outside, thousands of gardai lined the main street on both sides as Tony's coffin, draped with the tricolour and his garda hat and gloves, was driven slowly towards St Paul's Cemetery.
grief Every shop in the town shut its doors as a mark of respect, and as the hearse made its way slowly along the road the lines of gardai joined in behind Tony's family in unified grief.
Then it was driven to the cemetery with just Tony's closest family and friends behind so that his burial could take place in private.
The gardai then made their way back to their communities all over Ireland - to serve and protect them, just like Tony had.