Decent, generous and loyal.
If you had to choose three qualities to best describe Colm Horkan, it’s those. That’s according to one of the men who knew him best of all.
Colm Horkan and Stephen Healy began their long associations with Charlestown GAA Club as 9-year-olds in 1980 and for the next 40-years remained the best of club-mates and friends.
On Tuesday night however, Charlestown was robbed of one of its most beloved sons when Detective Garda Horkan was killed in the line of duty. He was shot by a man close to Castlerea Garda Station, where he was stationed, and left fatally wounded at the scene.
“You’d never have thought on a Wednesday night, in June, in Castlerea, that such a tragedy could take place,” an emotional Stephen Healy told the Western People today.
“Charlestown will be gutted by this but further afield too, he was known countrywide,” added Healy. “I could write 20 articles about him and it wouldn’t cover a fraction of the person he was. He was a very modest down-to-earth man, never spoke about his work, the sort you could ring at 3am and he’d come and meet you, the sort who’d lend you €100 and tell you to give it back whenever, just a decent, generous, loyal fella.”
Colm Horkan was a member of the Charlestown football team that won the 2001 Mayo and Connacht senior club championships. It was the highlight of a trophy-laden career with the Sarsfields club that stretched back to a Mayo minor league and championship double in 1988 after which Colm and his Charlestown teammates went on to also win the Mayo U21 Championship in 1991, the Mayo IFC in ’93 and the Mayo SFL in ’95.
“He was front and centre, a great man on and off the pitch, a very intelligent footballer, a great distributor and someone who always seemed to make the right call,” remembers Stephen Healy.
Colm also served as a selector to the club’s senior team that reached the 2007 Mayo SFC final.
John Casey grew up beside the Horkans in the town centre. The children of both families became the best of friends and the former Mayo footballer told RTÉ Radio today that Charlestown has been left “beyond devastated” by the tragic death of Colm Horkan.
“He was one of those fellas who you’d bring into the trenches with you and the guy who you’d nearly pick on your team first every time because you knew he wouldn’t see you stuck,” said Casey.
“He hadn’t an enemy in the town, everybody liked him and he was a role model in both his professional and personal life. He loved his job and he was your role model Garda, as straight as a die. What you saw with Colm was what you got.”
In particular, it’s the friendliness of Colm Horkan that John Casey said would be missed the most.
“Our community is beyond devastated, it’s numb and we’re trying to comprehend. The Horkan family is synonymous with the town and the GAA club. It’s going to take us a long, long time to get over this.
“He was respected by everybody, always put out very well, always looked pristine, kept himself really, really well. He was friendly and everybody knew him.”
Colm, who lived with his elderly father Marty, was the joint eldest of seven children. His twin sister Collette passed away from cancer 15 years ago, four years after their mother Dolores had died suddenly in 2001.
He is survived by his brothers and sisters Aidan, Brendan, twins Dermot and Deirdre, and Padraic.
“Whether it was fundraising or selling lotto tickets, Colm continued to give an understated support to Charlestown GAA Club,” said Stephen Healy.
“He never looked for the limelight, he was just one of those types of lads, and he leaves a tremendous legacy.”
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.