On a sunny, autumnal afternoon in west London, members of the Irish community gathered to celebrate the life of 87-year-old pensioner Thomas O’Halloran who was fatally stabbed in August of this year.
Around 400 family members, friends and well wishers attended the funeral service at Our Lady of the Visitation in Greenford, Ealing on Saturday, several weeks after his death.
Mr O’Halloran, originally from Ennistymon, Co Clare, was attacked and fatally stabbed while on his mobility scooter on August 16th in Greenford, west London.
The “well-liked” grandfather was a music lover and was well known in the community for busking outside Greenford station. He had been raising money for war-torn Ukraine weeks before he died.
Music played an integral role in the service led by Fr Liam O’Donovan. Terrence O’Flaherty, a second cousin of Mr O’Halloran, led a group of traditional musicians throughout the ceremony.
The group performed Boolavogue, a song Tom often played on his accordion while busking and From Clare to Here by Ralph McTell.
A moving poem named ‘Grandad’s song’, written by his grandson, also named Thomas, was read out during the service.
His coffin, adorned with the Clare flag, was carried out of the church by four pallbearers, with members of his family following behind.
Traditional music was also played during his burial, which took place near his home at Greenford Cemetery.
Floral arrangements spelling out ‘Grandad’ and ‘Tom’ were laid out beside his coffin.
One arrangement included a note, which read: “Dear Tom, We will miss your music. Carry on playing it in heaven.”
“Greenford Station won’t be the same without you.”
Mr O’Halloran’s funeral was paid for through funds raised by London’s Irish community and the undertakers carried out the arrangements free of charge.
Galway natives Mick and Trish Nevin, who now live in Wembley, were behind the GoFundMe fundraiser.
“We had a funeral previously for a good friend of mine and Don O’Dwyer’s undertakers did such an excellent job,” explained Mr Nevin.
“When this happened to Tom, (God rest him), they offered to do it for nothing if we agreed to help out.
“We’re very privileged to be able to help out.
“The Irish community in London is fantastic and families around the area helped out.”
Donegal native Brendan “Tiny” Vaughan, who lives in Harrow also helped raise money. “I used to see him at Greenford Station
“When I heard the news of his death I got involved with fundraising for his funeral.
“We raised thousands for the funeral and whatever money is leftover we hope to use it to pay for the headstone as well.”
A man accused of repeatedly stabbing Mr O’Halloran in neck, chest and abdomen has been charged and faces a provisional trial next year.
Lee Byer (44) has been accused over what a prosecutor has described as a “vicious attack”. The 44-year-old was charged on August 19th with Mr O’Halloran’s murder and possessing a large knife.