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An Taoiseach, Simon Harris TD officially opens Colm Horkan Memorial Pitch in Charlestown, Co Mayo

Ribbon cutting by Taoiseach Simon Harris at Charlestown Colm Horkan Memorial Pitch
Taoiseach Simon Harris shake hands with Marty Horkan, joined by Liam Breheny, Chairman Colm Horkan Memorial Pitch Committee and Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris

Today, Sunday 3rd June a new state-of-the-art GAA pitch and walkways has been officially opened by Taoiseach Simon Harris in memory of Detective Garda Colm Horkan, who was originally from Charlestown and was an active member of the Sarsfields GAA club and also coached the Under 10 team until his tragic death.

Back in the year 2020, just before midnight on Wednesday June 17th, Detective Garda Colm Horkan (49) stopped a man after receiving a report of someone speeding and driving recklessly on a motorcycle in Castlerea, Co Roscommon on the town's Main Street. What started as a routine check ended tragically.

Horkan had pressed the panic button on his radio to call for reinforcements, but the man got his service weapon and fired the entire magazine at the police officer. He was later pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene, becoming the 89th Garda to be killed in the line of duty.

Taoiseach Simon Harris
Taoiseach Simon Harris officially opens the Colm Horkan Memorial Pitch and Walkways in Charlestown, Co Mayo on Sunday 3rd June 2024.

Taoiseach Simon Harris emphasized once again in his speech how dangerous the job of a police officer is.

“Each and every day the men and women of An Garda Siochana put the welfare of others ahead of themselves." He said to the crowd of around 2,000 visitors:

“They bravely shoulder the burden of standing between us and danger.”

Taoiseach Simon Harris officially opens the Colm Horkan Memorial Pitch and Walkways in Charlestown, Co Mayo on Sunday 3rd June 2024.

“The death of a Garda in the line of duty is always a loss to their family and friends, but it's also an incredible loss to the wider communities in which they lived, and worked and which they protected with such dedication.”

Addressing Colm Horkan's father Marty and family, he said:

“Colm’s sacrifice can never ever be repaid and I know my words today cannot ease the pain of the Horkan family, pain they still feel so vividly today.”

Sad site note: Just on this day in Mannheim, Germany a 29-year-old police man died as a result of a knife attack by an Afghan refugee.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and Minister for Justice Helen McEntee at opening of Colm Horkan Memorial Pitch in Charlestown, Co Mayo

Along with local TDs and council members, An Taoiseach was accompanied by the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris.

Deirdre, sister of murdered Garda Colm Horkan performing "Amhran na bhFhiann" at opening of Colm Horkan Memorial Pitch in Charlestown, Co Mayo

Colm's sister Deirdre performed a rousing rendition of "Amhran na bhFhiann" accompanied by the Garda Band.

Liam Brehen, Marty Horkan and Taoiseach Simon Harris at official ribbon-cutting of Colm Horkan Memorial Pitch in Charlestown, Co Mayo

Taoiseach Harris did the official ribbon-cutting of the new complex, accompanied by Marty, Colm's father, and other Horkan family members.

Fr. Tommy Johnston, parish priest with Minister of Justice Helen McEntee and Liam Breheny in the background.
Fr. Tommy Johnston with Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee and Liam Breheny in background.

Fr. Tommy Johnston, the parish priest in the area, splashed holy water during a customary blessing ceremony.

On the day of Det. Garda Horkan's funeral, the notion for a memorial pitch and pathway emerged. Public members soon "came looking to us to support something," according to Liam Breheny, head of the Sarsfields club and Det. Garda Horkan's cousin.

He said, that Colm was much more than just a peacekeeper. “He was a beloved son and brother, a total friend and passionate sportsman.“

Liam Breheny, Chairman Colm Horkan Memorial Pitch Committee, Charlestown, Co Mayo
Liam Breheny, Chairman Colm Horkan Memorial Pitch Committee and Colm Horkan's cousin.

He thanked the Horkan Family for their unwavering support for this project from the outset, and he hope that this new pitch and walkways will be a fitting legacy for Colm and a facility for the community to enjoy for generations to come.

“This ground will serve as a lasting tribute to Colm, a testament to his courage, his kindness and his enduring spirit," he continued.

The new all-weather floodlit and 1.5 million Euro development of the Colm Horkan Memorial Pitch is a lovely way to honour Colm's memory, his younger brother Pádraig said and continued: „Det. Garda Horkan would be proud that the new facilities will benefit young players for generations to come.“

After the official ceremony, Simon Harris patiently walked around and greeted the numerous attendees, took time for selfies and chatted with children. For me, who is originally from Germany, it was a completely new experience, because it would be unthinkable in Germany for a "Chancellor" or "Prime Minister" to dare to get so close to the crowd.

Taoiseach Simon Harris surrounded by young kids at opening of Colm Horkan Memorial Pitch in Charlestown, Co Mayo

Three games were played on the newly constructed field following the formal event.

Wearing his late brother's shoes, Colm's younger brother Pádraig captained the first Charlestown Sarsfields Masters Selection side in the opening match against an All Ireland Masters Selection squad.

Padraig Horkan, brother of murdered Det. Garda Colm Horkan entering the new football pitch

The Senior Ladies Team played against Templemore Garda College Selection and the final game was Charlestown Sarsfields Senior Mens Team against All Star Garda Selection.

Small side note: For me it was the first time in my life to watch this Gaelic Football-Sport live, which is so popular for the Irish. This kind of sport is completely unknown in Germany. It's impressive how a young woman sits on the bench with a bleeding head wound after a violent collision and laughs. Nevertheless, this sport is fun to watch and photograph. Enjoy the image gallery.

See image gallery with all photographs of the day. You are allowed to download images for personal use and share with social media.


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