Thomas O’Halloran: Members of London’s Irish community come together to pay musical tribute


Members of the Irish community gathered this morning to pay their respects to Thomas O’Halloran, who was stabbed to death while riding his mobility scooter in London on Tuesday.

More than 100 people, many wearing sports shirts, gathered on Cayton Road in Greenford, near where Mr O’Halloran was killed just five days ago, for a musical tribute to the musician “loving” ambulant.

They commemorated the 87-year-old with prayers and Irish music, and local musicians played several songs, including The Dubliners’ Now I’m Easy.

Mr O’Halloran, from Ennistymon in County Clare, Ireland, was known to play regularly by Tesco and Greenford station and the tributes included songs he performed.

He played the accordion and had recently been on the streets raising money for Ukraine, as he had the country’s flag draped across the front of his scooter.

Ambrose Gordon, 61, said his friend would have “loved” the tribute.

“He’d be there on his little cart and he’d be playing his tunes and things like that,” he said.

Members of the Irish community gathered to pay their respects this morning on Cayton Road in Greenford, near where Thomas O’Halloran was killed just five days ago.

Attendees looked moved as the 87-year-old was remembered through prayers and Irish music

Attendees looked moved as the 87-year-old was remembered through prayers and Irish music

Ahead of the ceremony, flowers, candles and a vial of holy water were laid at the site near where Mr O'Halloran was stabbed.

Ahead of the ceremony, flowers, candles and a vial of holy water were laid at the site near where Mr O’Halloran was stabbed.

Thomas O'Halloran, 87 (pictured) from Ennistymon in County Clare, Ireland, was known to play regularly by Tesco and Greenford station and the tributes included songs he performed

Thomas O’Halloran, 87 (pictured) from Ennistymon in County Clare, Ireland, was known to play regularly by Tesco and Greenford station and the tributes included songs he performed

Mr Gordon, from County Galway, added: ‘I’m 60 here and I’ve seen opportunities, all kinds of opportunities, and we’re a very, very, very strong community.

“We came from all counties today. We’ve all worn our shirts, so we’re very proud Irish people, despite having been here for 60 years.

Another friend, Gerry Hehir, 65, said Mr O’Halloran’s death had “shocked” the community.

Mr Hehir, from nearby South Harrow, said: ‘I have lived here for 29 years. It’s a shock the way it happened. I mean, there’s a lot of tragedy in London and other places and all over the world, but it’s a very, very sad thing.

More than 100 people turned out to remember

Over 100 people turned out to remember the ‘kind and gentle man’, many of whom wore Irish sports shirts

The local parish priest, Father Tom Daly, led the community in prayer saying:

Local parish priest Fr Tom Daly led the community in prayer saying: ‘We are praying today for Tom, who died so violently’

He described Mr O’Halloran as ‘very calm and professional’, adding: ‘He was a very loving man and a very caring man, and he was ‘trying to raise money for Ukraine, for the appalling disaster that has taken place. ‘took place there’.

“He will be remembered very well for all he has done for the community.”

Mr Hehir described the event as a “sad occasion that turned into what I would call not joy, but the easing of gatherings of people”. I think it meant a lot to the family and to all of us.”

Ahead of the ceremony, flowers, candles and a vial of holy water were laid at the site near where Mr O’Halloran was stabbed.

A tribute read: “They will rejoice at the sound of your music. Heaven is special because you are there.

The local parish priest, Fr Tom Daly, led the community in prayer saying: “We are praying today for Tom, who died so violently.

“Faced with this kind of horrible incident, we don’t know what to do and people feel completely helpless.”

A tribute read: “They will rejoice at the sound of your music.  Heaven is special because you are there.

A tribute read: “They will rejoice at the sound of your music. Heaven is special because you are there.

People laid flowers on Western Avenue near the alley where Mr O'Halloran was stabbed on Tuesday

People laid flowers on Western Avenue near the alley where Mr O’Halloran was stabbed on Tuesday

He added: “It is one thing to do, it is to come together in solidarity. Solidarity with the family, for whom we pray, Thomas, for whom we pray, and with each other in the community gathered here.

Mr O’Halloran left the village of Ennistymon for London where he pursued a career as an engineer, his family told MailOnline earlier this week.

They spoke of their devastation at his death, with his younger brother George, 74, saying: ‘Tommy was a kind and gentle man. He was a very nice person who got along with anyone. It’s a terrible thing that happened.

George broke down in tears as he continued: “He left Ennistymon 70 years ago to find better opportunities in London. But he came back every year.

Mr O'Halloran was one of 14 children born in this small cottage on the outskirts of Ennistymon in County Clare, Ireland.

Mr O’Halloran was one of 14 children born in this small cottage on the outskirts of Ennistymon in County Clare, Ireland.

“He liked to play music. He didn’t drink or smoke, but he could sit in a bar all night with a bottle of coke and listen to the band play.

George, a retired firefighter, revealed Mr O’Halloran was one of 14 children born in a small thatched cottage on the outskirts of Ennistymon.

He explained: “There was no electricity or running water. We slept in the cottage, washed and shaved at the well across the road and went to the toilet in a bush. It was another time.

George told how the wider Clare community was shocked to learn of his brother’s death – and said Mr O’Halloran is survived by just two of his siblings as well as more of nieces and nephews.

On Friday, a man appeared in court for his murder. Lee Byer, 44, from Southall, has been taken into custody at Willesden Magistrates’ Court and is due to appear at the Old Bailey next Tuesday.

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