Filipino community prays for Jastine Valdez and Mark Hennessy at Enniskerry vigil

Gathering told the tragedy an isolated incident and does not represent goodness of the Irish people

Crowds attend a service at The Clock Tower in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, on Tuesday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The Filipino community in Ireland has offered prayers for the families of both Jastine Valdez and Mark Hennessy, the man who is believed to have killed her after he abducted her from Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, on Saturday.

At a vigil for Ms Valdez in Enniskerry on Tuesday evening, leaders of Irish and Filipino communities, as well as leaders of local religious congregations prayed, played music and placed lighting candles at the village clock tower.

In an address, Filipino Bong Mendez said the Irish and Filipino communities had come together as one in a way he had not experienced in 18 years in this country. He urged the crowd to “pray for Jastine and Mark’s families”.

He said the lessons of the tragedy were that “we have to take care of each other” and he urged them “to pray for both”.


Honorary consul to the Philippines Mark Christopher Congdon asked those present to support the Valdez family “in the weeks and months ahead” and to also remember the Hennessy family in their prayers.

Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Fr Rene Esoy of the Sacred Heart Chapel on Bachelors Walk said the Filipino community wanted to say “thank you”.

‘Isolated incident’

“We understand that it is an isolated incident and it does not represent the goodness of the Irish people because we feel that you are so good to us, the Filipinos,” he said.

“In the midst of all this tragedy there is this concern of all of you for the Filipino community in Ireland.

“I believe in the midst of this tragedy there is light – we can see the beauty of your concern and love. So during this vigil allow me to say, thank you for your support for the family of Jastine and also for the Filipino community: go raibh maith agat.”

He said the tragedy was not only for the Filipino community “but also for yourselves the Irish society”. He said he felt this deep outpouring of concern on “Facebook and in the newspapers”.

Wicklow Sinn Féin TD John Brady, who led the vigil, asked the crowd to support “Lorna Hennessy and her two young children who are also experiencing very, very hurtful times and very, very difficult times as well”.

‘Wonderful bond’

Mr Brady said the vigil was “organised by the community because the community felt they needed to do something to remember Jastine and to support her family who are going through a very difficult time. To support her family not just today but when the cameras are gone, when the media are gone,” he said.

Gian Santiago and Lot Gernan at the Enniskerry vigil. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Fr Bernard Kennedy said there was “a wonderful bond” between the Irish and the Filipino community. He said Ms Valdez was “a beautiful soul” and “our hearts were moved with the awfulness and our hearts were moved with love”.

Fr Kennedy introduced a minute’s silence “to echo the emptiness of the words” that can express her beauty in the world.

Rev Richard Roundtree said “words are always inadequate to express what we feel and so it is at times like this when prayer is the only thing that speaks to our hearts and allows us to express something of who and what we are”. He asked God to “comfort us in our grief”.

At the end of the ceremony, people were urged to sign a book of condolences that had been set up outside the Powerscourt Arms hotel.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist