They came from all over the country, four thousand of them, marching or lining the streets of Dundalk, and the road to Lordship, an endless sea of blue uniforms, the largest gathering of An Garda Siochana officers, women and men of all ages, since the formation of the state.
In those ninety years there have been many funerals for officers who have died in the line of duty, but few of us could remember anything quite like this. Five days earlier, on a January night when a relentless wind and rain swept across the country, one of their colleagues, Det Garda Adrian Donohoe, was senselessly murdered at Lordship Credit Union, just a short distance from his home.
These officers came from Cork and Kerry, Galway and Dublin, every division, every station, to honour a colleague, a fellow officer, a husband, a father, a man who led by example, who worked for the community, who helped train young people at his local St Pat’s GAA club where he was known as Big A. A well-liked man, whose life ended suddenly, and for no reason.
This sea of gardai stood with local people outside St Joseph’s Redemptorist church on Alphonsus Road while inside members of Det garda Donohue’s family were joined by dignitaries, led by President Higgins, and listened to a passionate homily delivered by Fr Michael Cusack, Adm. St Joseph’s, and friend of the Donohoe family.
“I have absolutely no doubt,” Fr Cusack said, “there are people who know who is the cause of this sorrow. And if there is anyone who knows anything, if you have any semblance of goodness in you, for God’s sake turn these people in.
“The whole country is gutted by what has happened. How could anyone do this? Adrian was a perfect role model, an example of who we should try to be. He did that so well with St Pat’s.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan reflected the feelings of everyone when he said no words could adequately express “the great sense of loss and revulsion felt by the Donohoe family, the family of An garda Siochana, and the wider public,” by this cold-blooded murder.
He welcomed “his good colleague” Chief Constable Matt Baggot of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Secretary of State Theresa Villiers, and Stormont Justice Minister David Ford, who came to St Joseph’s for the funeral, and he expressed the deep gratitude of the force to the people of Dundalk and Cooley for their sympathy and support.
This was a state funeral like no other, for it brought together the people of Dundalk and Louth, the security forces of both jurisdictions, the politicians from both jurisdictions, and it clearly said that murder and criminality will never prevail on this island.
As Commissioner Callinan said: “Adrian, Detective Garda, husband, father, son, brother, colleague, community leader, GAA man, friend. We will never forget you”.