The “proud” and “strong” Irish community came together for a musical tribute to “loving” busker Thomas O’Halloran, the 87-year-old Irishman who died after he was stabbed to death on his mobility scooter in London.
More than 100 members of the Irish community, many wearing sports jerseys, gathered on Sunday morning at Cayton Road in Greenford, west London, to commemorate Mr O’Halloran with Irish music and prayers.
Mr O’Halloran, originally from Ennistymon in Co Clare, was known to busk regularly by the train station in Greenford and tributes included songs he performed.
He played the accordion and had recently been busking to raise money for Ukraine, when he would have the country’s flag draped over the front of his scooter.
Ambrose Gordon, 61, said his friend would have “loved” the tribute.
“He’d be there on his little trolley and he’d have been playing his tunes and things like that.”
Mr Gordon, originally from Co Galway, told the PA news agency: “I’m 60 years here and I have seen occasions, all kinds of occasions, and we are a very strong community, very, very strong.
“We came from every county today. We all wore our jerseys, so we’re very proud Irishmen, despite the fact we’re here 60 years.”
Another friend, 65-year-old Gerry Hehir, told PA that Mr O’Halloran’s death “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 tragedies in London and in the wider place and all throughout the world, but it’s a very, very sad thing.”
He described Mr O’Halloran as “very quiet and professional”, adding he was “a very loving man and a very caring man, and he was “trying to collect for Ukraine, for the appalling disaster there”.
“He will be very well remembered for everything he’s done for the community.”
Mr Hehir described the event as a “sad occasion which turned into what I would call not joyful but the easing of people coming together. I think it meant a lot to the family and to all of us”.
Before the ceremony, flowers, candles and a vial of holy water were laid at the site near where Mr O’Halloran was stabbed.
One tribute read: “They will rejoice at the sound of your music. Heaven is special because you are there.”
Local parish priest Father Tom Daly led the community in prayer, saying: “We pray today for Tom, who died so violently.
“In the face of this kind of awful incident, we don’t know what to do and people feel completely helpless.”
He added: “This is one thing to do, is to gather in solidarity. Solidarity with the family, whom we pray for, Thomas, whom we pray for, and with one another in the community here gathered.”
During the event, local musicians played several songs, including Now I’m Easy by the Dubliners, as the community clapped and sang along.
– Lee Byer, 44, will appear at the Old Bailey on Tuesday charged with Mr O’Halloran’s murder.