Home­town trib­ute to Jerry McCabe a time to re­flect on the work of gar­daí

Bray People - - OPINION -

IT was a day of mixed emo­tions. A day that De­tec­tive Garda Jerry McCabe’s fam­ily had waited 20 years for and one they so richly de­served.

It was the day that the slain Garda’s home town of Bal­ly­long­ford united to pay trib­ute to their lost son who was gunned down by mem­bers of the Pro­vi­sional IRA on June 7, 1996 dur­ing the at­tempted rob­bery of a post of­fice van in Adare

As the na­tion’s eyes fo­cussed on the nor­mally quiet north Kerry vil­lage on Sun­day, the emo­tion was pal­pa­ble, the loss still over­whelm­ing two decades later.

This was the first time that the Kerry Garda was hon­oured in his home county and the sig­nif­i­cance and enor­mity of that meant so much to so many.

Ad­dress­ing the hun­dreds who gath­ered for the special event, Garda McCabe’s widow Anne de­scribed it as a huge hon­our. She spoke lov­ingly and emo­tion­ally about the lit­tle ru­ral vil­lage that meant so much to her late hus­band, to her, and to their five chil­dren, telling the crowd that she will al­ways have cher­ished mem­o­ries of vis­it­ing Garda McCabes’s late par­ents when they lived and worked there.

Garda McCabes’s part­ner on that fate­ful day, re­tired Garda Ben O’Sul­li­van – who mirac­u­lously sur­vived 11 bul­let wounds dur­ing the rob­bery – was equally emo­tional on the day.

He said Gda McCabe would have been priv­i­leged to be hon­oured by his peers and neigh­bours, so much was his love for the north Kerry vil­lage. He likened their many trips to Bal­ly­long­ford to ‘call­ing in at home’.

How­ever, it was Mrs McCabe’s heart-break­ing de­scrip­tion of the im­pact of her hus­band’s death on his fa­ther John McCabe that high­lighted the enor­mous suf­fer­ing caused by his need­less and sense­less killing.

‘Granda McCabe’ – as she lov­ingly called him – died of a bro­ken heart, she said, and never re­cov­ered from the tragedy of los­ing his son in the line of duty.

He never got over his son’s killing and now she too, along with her five chil­dren, will have to live with that over­whelm­ing loss un­til the day die.

How­ever, see­ing the man she loved hon­oured in the place he loved will hope­fully come as some con­so­la­tion and Sun­day’s cer­e­mony will quite rightly be a very proud day for the McCabes.

While Garda McCabe has al­ready been hon­oured with a plaque at the garda sta­tion in Adare, it was won­der­ful that a man who was so proud of where he came from re­ceived the same recog­ni­tion from those who loved him most.

It finds pride of place on the wall of the home where he grew up – a fit­ting trib­ute to a man who de­voted his life to pro­tect­ing oth­ers.

It was a day that will pro­vide some clo­sure to the MCCabe fam­ily but it was a day too to re­mem­ber all vic­tims of crime and to pay trib­ute to the work done by gar­daí to help com­fort those be­reaved by crime.

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