The people of Dundalk came out in force on Monday evening to pay tribute to Yosuke Sasake the 24-year old Japanese man who was stabbed to death in town last Wednesday.
The candlelight vigil was organised by members of Dundalk Municipal District and took place at the Maid of Erin statue outside the courthouse. Despite the cold weather an estimated 1500 people turned out for the vigil which included an inter-faith reflection which included contributions from Fr Mark O’Hagan, administrator of St Patrick’s Parish, Imam Nooh from the Dundalk Islamic Community and Rev. Captain Geoffrey Walmsley representing the Church of Ireland.
The vigil was also attended by Mari Myoshi of the Japanese embassy as well as friends and workmates of Yosuke who worked in National Pen. Dylan Grehan and Cian Murphy the other two victims of last Wednesday’s attacks were also in attendance. Speaking at the event Dundalk Municipal District Chairman John McGahon read out a statement from Yosuke’s family who wanted to send a message to the people of Dundalk.
“We would like to express our sincere gratitude for the kindness the people of Ireland have shown. When he was alive, our son spoke about the warmth of the people of this town and his love for Dundalk. He came to Ireland initially as a language student and only intended a short stay. However, he was touched by the kindness of the Irish people and he decided to work here.
“As a family, we are truly saddened by what has happened but we hope that this incident will not give Japanese people a bad impression of Ireland.
“We would like to give our heartfelt thanks to the ambulance personnel, the Gardaí, National Pen Limited, Oliver Morgan who set up the GoFundMe page, the staff of the embassy of Japan and the members of Louth County Council who organised tonight’s candlelight vigil.
“Finally, we hope that a tragic event like this one will never happen in this country again,” concluded the statement from the Sasaki family.
Speaking after the vigil Cllr John McGahon expressed his pride in the people of Dundalk for showing solidarity with not only Yosuke Sasake but also the multicultural community as a whole.
“We had an incredible turnout on Monday evening and just like the Japanese town where Yosuke is from, Dundalk has also been grieving. I thought the people of Dundalk showed great solidarity and a show of strength for Yosuke’s friends and family and I know that the gesture was appreciated by them all.
“Once again the people of Dundalk have shown that they are an incredibly caring and passionate people and they did themselves proud on Monday evening.
“Our thoughts go out to Yosuke’s friends and family,” concluded John.