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Gardaí say 'no stone will be left unturned' in Ashling Murphy murder investigation

The young woman’s killing has led to an outpouring of shock at a local and national level.

Garda divers are seen in the canal in Tullamore this evening.
Garda divers are seen in the canal in Tullamore this evening.
Image: RollingNews.ie

Updated Jan 13th 2022, 6:00 PM

Note: The man who was being questioned has been released and eliminated as a suspect by gardaí. You can find our latest update on the investigation here

GARDAÍ HAVE SAID that “no stone will be left unturned” in their murder investigation into the death of Ashling Murphy, a 23-year-old teacher who was out for an afternoon run yesterday in Tullamore when she was fatally attacked.

A “full-scale” murder investigation has been launched with over 50 gardaí assigned.

Ashling, who was from the village of Blue Ball outside Tullamore, was attacked along the canal bank way in Cappincur, to the east of the Co Offaly town, at around 4pm yesterday. 

A 40-year-old man remains detained in Tullamore Garda Station tonight. 

A postmortem has been completed, but gardaí have said tonight that the results are not being released for operational reasons.

Gardaí are this evening appealing to the public for any information on a Falcon Storm mountain bike with straight handlebars and distinctive yellow/green front forks.

Garda divers were also seen in the canal this afternoon. It’s understood that they were searching for phones or a weapon that may have been used in the attack.

Tullamore_Falcon_Storm The Falcon Storm mountain bike Source: An Garda SÍochána

Locals who spoke to The Journal in Tullamore today described their shock and despair at the killing. There has also been an outpouring of shock at a national level – with Justice Minister Helen McEntee saying this afternoon that she shared people’s anger over the senseless murder.

Superintendent Eamonn Curley told reporters this morning that Gardaí attended the scene after receiving a call from a member of the public.

“At the scene Gardaí discovered a woman with serious injuries. Medical attention was provided, but despite the best efforts of the medical team, this young lady passed away.

No stone will be left unturned in bringing the perpetrator of this crime to justice.

“The incident occurred, as I said, on the Grand Canal way at Cappincur, but more specifically between Boland Lock and Digby’s bridge here behind me. This area here where the crime occurred is popular among Tullamore residents and is widely used for recreational purposes.

The victim of this crime is Ashling Murphy, a 23-year-old local lady from the Blue Ball area of Tullamore. Ashling was a school teacher in Durrow National School.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Ashling’s family at this time and indeed the wider community, her teaching colleagues and the children she taught who are without their teacher today. Personnel from our family liaison unit are providing ongoing support to the family.
Immediately following the discovery of this crime a full-scale murder investigation was launched. The scene was sealed off and remains so where the Garda Technical Bureau are conducting a detailed forensic examination of the scene.

The stretch of canal walkway where Ashling was running is called ‘Fiona’s Way’ – named after Fiona Pender, a 25-year-old local woman who went missing while pregnant in August 1996.

Source: Rolling News Video/YouTube

Superintendent Curley said there is no information to suggest that the victim and her killer were known to each other.

“From inquiries we have carried out to date we believe this crime was committed by one male who acted alone,” he said. 

It’s understood the man being questioned is originally from Romania. He is currently being detained at Tullamore Garda Station.

‘Always in our thoughts’

271821513_4552913338154860_6048255879988131332_n Ashling Murphy Source: Comhaltas via Facebook

The National Women’s Council of Ireland said that wishing to reflect the “huge outpouring of grief” it will be holding a vigil outside Dáil Éireann for Ashling at 4pm tomorrow. A vigil is also planned for Galway tonight.

“For such an appalling tragedy to befall a young woman, who only recently began her teaching career, adds to the profound sense of loss and grief felt,” teachers’ union the INTO said. 

Irish trad organisation Comhaltas has also paid tribute to Ashling, who was a member of the National Folk Orchestra of Ireland, and played fiddle and concertina. 

“Ashling was among the finest exponents of the concertina and fiddle and was was also learning the uilleann pipes,” Comhaltas said in a post on social media. 

“She exhibited great leadership qualities and was a fabulous mentor and role model to students, both in her professional career as a teacher and her music teaching in the Offaly area.

“She had such a bubbly, sunny disposition always and always involved in her local community putting on music and choral performances.”

Ashling, you will always be in our thoughts and prayers as we cherish the memories and friendship of your short but exceptional life.

James Hogan, principal of Durrow National School, where Ashling worked, said she was “a bright light who put a smile on anyone’s face”. 

A vigil was held this evening in Galway in memory of Ashling. 

unnamed (1) Members of the public at a vigil for Ashling in Galway this evening Source: Declan Colohan Photography

‘Senseless act’

Helen McEntee called on anyone with information to come forward and speak with Gardaí, pledging that they would ”ensure justice is done”.

Speaking to RTÉ’s News at One, the justice minister said that “this is such a senseless act”. 

“A young woman has been murdered. This is the most serious of crimes. It is an evil act, it will be treated as such. The gardaí will have everything they require to make sure that whoever has done this that they will be brought to justice,” she said. 

“We have a family grieving and a community grieving here and I just offer my sincere condolences to everyone, to her family in particular.” 

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin today said what happened is “devastating news”. 

“My heart goes out to her parents, to her family, to the children she taught and to the wider community,” Martin said. 

“She didn’t waste a minute of her life. A musician, a teacher. One can only think of what’s going through the minds of the children that she taught every day and what they’re thinking of today in terms of what happened.”

Superintendent Curley said this morning that gardaí are keeping “an open mind in this investigation” and that he would appeal for the public’s assistance. 

“I would also like to appeal to anyone who has not yet come forward who was on the Grand Canal Way on Wednesday 12 January 2022 between 3pm and 5pm,” he said.

We would like to speak to you. We are appealing for witnesses who may have seen any person who was behaving unusual in that area. Any information you have however insignificant you may think it may be we need to hear from you.

Gardaí are asking anyone anyone who may have information to contact them: Tullamore Garda Station on 057 932 7600, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station.

- Reporting from Garreth MacNamee in Tullamore, Gráinne Ní Aodha, Niall O’Connor, Daragh Brophy, Hayley Halpin, Rónán Duffy and Tadgh McNally

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