President Michael D. Higgins has reached out to the family of tragic Co Clare emigrant Thomas O’Halloran, who was stabbed to death while riding his mobility scooter in west London on Tuesday.
The daylight attack on the 87-year-old grandfather has horrified the UK and
his locals and family in his hometown of Ennistymon.
Following a major appeal, a 44-year-old male suspect is in custody after an early morning raid by armed police yesterday.
Denis Vaughan, from Ennistymon, Co Clare, said the whole town was deeply shocked by the tragic events.
“It’s horrible. Absolutely awful. How could anyone do such a thing to a defenseless old man?” he asked.
“We are all at a loss to understand this. It’s incredible.
“Tom left Ennistymon 70 years ago but people remember him – we knew he worked in a local shop before he left and I knew his brothers.
“The city is in mourning, as is everyone in west London. People are in shock.
“It doesn’t matter that Tom left so long ago – he’s still a son on Ennistymon.
“It’s terrible that this is happening to him. And it’s awful for this little town to see one of us die under such circumstances.
“It’s currently full of tourists and life is good, but that’s uprooted us all.”
A neighbor and friend of Mr O’Halloran’s family in Greenford, west London, has set up a GoFundMe appeal for the pensioner’s family to help fund his funeral.
Skye Dunnage described Mr O’Halloran, also known as ‘Terry’ to West London locals, as a ‘polite, kind and jolly man’ who was popular in his community.
The kind-hearted expat even raised money for Ukraine by busking.
Ms Dunnage said he “still has a lot of life in him” when his life was cruelly cut short.
“Many of you locally would have known Tom for playing instruments and busking in train stations in the Greenford area to support his family and also to raise money for Ukraine.”
Ms Dunnage said Mr O’Halloran later worked as a caretaker until his retirement.
“Tom was a grandfather and father and a family man, so he busked around for his family when times were tough.
“Tom did not deserve this tragic end to his life and, as you can imagine, left his family incredibly devastated.”
Former Ealing North MP Stephen Pound, who has known Mr O’Halloran for many years, said the friendly expat was “the heart of the community”.
“He was a lovely, sweet man who was the center of everything at Greenford.
“He was one of those characters that makes a place special. He was always there, holding court in front of the café or playing the accordion.
“Terry, as we called him, was always raising money for people and caring about people.
“Like I said to someone before, he was like the uncrowned King of Greenford, and his mobility scooter was like his throne.
“He will be greatly missed. People like him don’t come around often.”
President Michael D. Higgins has reached out to contact Mr O’Halloran’s immediate family in London to offer his condolences.
It is understood that Mr O’Halloran will be buried in London. However, no formal plans were made.
Fearful friends and neighbors of Mr O’Halloran gathered last night at a meeting called by commanders of London’s Metropolitan Police to express their horror and anger at the recent death on the streets of the British capital.
Mr O’Halloran became the 59th murder victim in London this year – and the sixth in just four days – when he was stabbed to death near Cayton Road in Greenford, just off the A40, at around 4pm on Tuesday.
An arrest was made in the early hours of yesterday morning following a major public appeal in which police released a picture of a man they wanted to speak to.
Around a dozen officers arrested a 44-year-old man at his mother’s home in Southall after a tense 30-minute standoff.
The raid took place just two miles from where Thomas O’Halloran’s life had been so ruthlessly taken in Greenford a few days earlier.
Neighbors told British media that at 1.35am police broke down the door of the property and burst inside.
Rahul Patel, 28, an accountant who lives nearby, said so Daily Telegraph: “There was a lot of riot gear, guns and a lot of people, a dog, armed police officers – they were circling the street.”
Roommate Piera Cheent, 76, said she saw the suspect being dragged out of the house.
“Two officers held him with his hands behind his back,” he said.
“As soon as he got out of the house, he sat on the floor.
“Eventually they picked him up and took him away and put him in the van.
“He wasn’t violent, but he fought back, he didn’t want to leave.
“There was screaming and screaming as he left.”
Cindy O’Neill, 37 – one of Mr O’Halloran’s grandchildren – was speaking from her home in Westgate-on-Sea, near Margate telegraph: “He was such a lovely, lovely person.
“We’re all in shock right now.”
Ms O’Neill, a mother of two, added: “It’s awful. I can’t think straight. It’s just so awful.”
Linda O’Halloran, a niece of the Ennistymon victim, said the family was finding it “very difficult” to process his death.
“We are the most open-hearted people, but this is very difficult for my parents,” she told the telegraph.
“It’s very raw and they’re trying to come to terms with it.”
Mr O’Halloran belonged to a family of 16, most of whom had emigrated.
“It’s a classic story from Ireland in the 1930s/40s, where most families lived in relative poverty and most of them, as soon as they were able, went to England,” said Shane Talty, Ennistymon Councilor.
“This part of the story is familiar to most Irish families.
“He seems to have brought the musical tradition with him and carried it through his life.
“He would have come here to Ennistymon every year until his age increased about 10 years ago.
“It is a terrible tragedy – no one can understand it.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/tom-was-a-grandad-a-family-man-he-did-not-deserve-this-tragic-end-to-his-life-clare-town-in-shock-from-london-murder-41921994.html ‘Tom was a grandfather, a family man – he didn’t deserve this tragic end to his life’ – Clare Town shocked at London murder