Monday, June 22, 2020

By Pat Delaney

The tragic death of Det Garda Colm Horkan, who was stationed in Castlerea, Co. Mayo, on Wednesday night last dominated the news right up until his burial on Sunday afternoon last in his native Charlestown.

Forty years ago two men from the same station in Castlerea and Mayo natives Hugh Byrne and John Morley were gunned down following a bank robbery in the locality of Loughglynn. Sixty years ago Garda Morley lined out in an All-Ireland Colleges football semi-final with St Jarlath’s and the game was played in O’Moore Park. The College went on to win the All-Ireland and in ‘61 retained their title.

Det Garda Harkan’s tragic death brought back memories of other tragic deaths of members of the Gardai. Back in 1977 Garda Michael Clerkin, a native of Monaghan, was killed at Garryhinch when he along with others were lured to an empty house. As they entered the building a bomb exploded and Michael was killed instantly.

Sgt Jim Cannon was seriously injured as were Garda Gerry Bohan, a native of Leitrim, and another Mayo native Garda Ben Thornton. thankfully they all recovered. Kilkenny native Det Tom Peters was also seriously injured and passed away two years ago having never regained his sight from the injuries sustained.

On Friday June Tom’s wife Betty (nee Kennedy), a native of Moneygall, passed away aged 82 in the loving care of the staff of Sue Ryder Home, Portlaoise. Betty and Tom lost their son Dick ten years ago.

Being a Kilkenny native Tom Peters enjoyed hurling and when he was transferred to Portlaoise he joined Clonad and lined out with them in 1958 when they defeated Borris-in-Ossory in the championship final after a replay. Apart from hurling Tom was a keen greyhound fan and even through his illness could still seen walking a pair of lovely greyhounds.

Being married to a Tipperary woman one can imagine there was huge banter because Tom, despite his injuries, never lost his devotion to Kilkenny hurling and the national and local radio was to become his best friend.

Betty is mourned by her daughters Elma, Breidette (O’Donnell), grandchildren Ellen, Eva and Luke, sadly missed by her son-in-law Paul, brothers Phillip and Eamon, sister Anne Holohan, nieces, nephews, relatives, extended family, great neighbours on the Stradbally Road in Portlaoise and so many people who enjoyed her company since moving to Portlaoise.

Still with the garda grief, on Saturday 13 June Danesfort, Co. Kilkenny native Richie Dunne lost his daughter Lorraine who had been ill for a while with cancer. Lorraine’s mother Kathleen (nee Flanagan), a Stradbally native, died a few short years ago.

Lorraine was a talented footballer with Ballylinan and St Brigid’s and was part of the Ballylinan team which won the junior championship in 1996. She also won a Leinster minor medal with Laois and went on to play senior inter-county with distinction.

Her brother Richard was a member of the Arles Killeen senior football panel until recently while and her dad Richie was a very talented hurler. Prior to a hurling career his talents were admired with the oval ball when stationed in Roscrea in the late 1970s and where he also played hurling. When he transferred to Ballylinan Athy rugby club would benefit from his rugby talent.

When approached by Abbeyleix GAA he joined them in 1983 and in Centenary Year lined out in the NHL with Laois taking on Cork.

Lorraine’s Requiem Mass was celebrated on Wednesday last followed by burial in the adjoining cemetery. Lorraine is mourned by her father Richie, sister Olga, brother Richie, friend Noleen, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, grand aunt Ber, nieces and nephews, and extended family an friends.

There was also great sadness in Graiguecullen at the passing of Elizabeth (Liz) Bolton (nee Nolan), Duggan Avenue, wife of well-known Graiguecullen GAA club official over many years, Mick.

The Bolton and Nolan families have been staunch members of the famous club over many years. Liz passed away on Tuesday last 16 June. She had been in great health but passed away following brief illness. Her Requiem Mass was celebrated on Thursday in St Clare’s Church, Graiguecullen.

Liz is mourned by her husband Mick, son Seamus, grandchildren Michelle, James and Jack, great grandchildren Bailee, Callum, Cody, Pippa and Ben, daughter-in-law Mary Clare, brothers and sisters, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, aunt Breda, nephews and nieces the community in Duggan Avenue and many great friends.

On Wednesday last the death occurred of Noleen Coss (nee Doyle), Grattan Street, Portlaosie and formerly of Kyle, Rathdowney. She was married to Matthew who worked with Laois County Council and was a member of a great Clonad hurling family.

Noleen had been unwell for a while and passed away at the residence of her daughter Louise and her Requiem Mass was celebrated in St Peter and Paul’s Church, Portlaoise on Friday.

Noleen is mourned by her husband Matt, sons John Paul, and Matthew, daughters Louise, Pamela, Stephanie and Mary, brothers, sisters, sons-in-law, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, her 14 grandchildren and many friends.

The death of Tom Major, Rathevan, Portlaoise and formerly of Bushey Herts, London occurred on Friday last. Tom’s wife Mary (nee Flanagan) was a daughter of the late Billy who was Laois Hurling Board secretary for a number of years in the early ‘70s and who later became a renowned and hard-working GAA correspondent, a position he treated with the utmost honesty and fairness. On a busy Sunday Billy could cover up to ten games from Ballylinan to Clonaslee, some achievement back in those days.

Tom is mourned by his wife Mary (nee Flanagan), native of Mountmellick, daughters Sarah, Ellen, Kate and Nora, son Thomas, mother Nora, mother-in-law Maura (nee Baker), brothers-in-law, sisters-in law, nieces, nephews, aunt, uncle, cousins, friends, neighbours and fellow Arsenal supporters.

Requiem Mass was celebrated in private in SS Peter and Pauls Church Portlaoise on Sunday followed by internment in SS Peter and Paul’s Cemetery.

As we go to press we have learned of the sudden passing of Mountrath publican Tom Delaney, a great Slieve Bloom GAA man. Tom had attended a first training run on Sunday morning before taking a trip across the Slieve Bloom Mountains as was his normal routine but suffered a heart attack and passed away.

Tom is mourned by his wife Anne, sons Tom, Padraig and Darragh.

Full obituary next week.


Det Garda Horgan was the 89th Garda to die in tragic circumstances since the Garda Siochana was founded in 1922. The first member to lose his life was Henry Phelan from Rushin Road, Mountrath. Henry was stationed in Callan, Co. Kilkenny and was just nine months in the force.

Garda Phelan had gone and went into a shop in Mullinahone to purchase hurling balls. He had intended forming a club where he was stationed. A man walked in and shot him in cold blood. He is buried in St Kavan’s Cemetery, Camross.

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