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'She was just a beautiful person ... Her life has been stolen from her'

Family friends and locals in Tullamore have been speaking of their shock at the murder of Ashling Murphy.

Image: Comhaltas

Updated Jan 13th 2022, 3:55 PM

FAMILY FRIENDS OF Ashling Murphy, the young primary school teacher murdered as she was out for a run outside Tullamore yesterday afternoon, have described impact of the 23-year-old’s death as “beyond brutal”. 

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

Gardaí said this morning that they had launched a “full-scale” murder investigation with 50 gardaí assigned.

Locals and family friends paid tribute to Ashling in the town this morning. The young woman was described as a talented traditional musician and as someone whose smile would “light up a room”. 

One of the most striking moods in the area is that of disbelief. 

John and Catherine Brady knew Ashling her whole life. Paying tribute to the teacher, John told The Journal: “She was just a beautiful person. She was an incredible musical talent. What happened to Ashling is just beyond brutal.

“That’s all you can say really. Beyond brutal. I don’t even want to mention the man arrested. We should talk about Ashling and how extremely talented she was.

Her life has been whipped away from her. It has been stolen from her. I just can’t believe it really. I just can’t.

Catherine described how the first time she laid eyes on Ashling was at a maternity hospital as she herself was going in to give birth.  

“The first time I saw her was when her mother and father were walking out of the hospital with their little newborn baby and we were walking in to have our daughter. To think she’s gone now is just so heartbreaking.” 

Screenshot 2022-01-13 1.25.01 PM John and Catherine Brady.

The murder has been met with shock not just locally but at a national level. 

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

Appealing for information on the killing, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said that people were feeling shocked and angry at the news of Ashling’s death – adding that she shared that anger.

Tullamore 

Mary and Aoife Noonan also visited the site of her death to pay tribute to Ashling.

The mother and daughter described how they walked the same route every day and that the nature of Ashling’s death is something which will stay with them forever. 

Mary said: “We walk here every day after school. It’s a busy enough spot for people exercising. I just can’t believe what happened to Ashling. I knew her well enough but my heart just really goes out to her family.

God knows what they must be going through. We just came down to pay our respects. This could have happened to anyone and I think that’s what’s so frightening about it. 

Kevin Morris has lived in the area his whole life and described Ashling’s “senseless” murder as “a horrific thing”. 

“I know the town will come together for the family,” he said. “We will do what we can for them.” 

Isabelle Hickey said she knew Ashling through the music scene and that she was an extremely gifted fiddle player. 

Ashling was someone who would light up a room when she walked through the door. She just had that about her. I just can’t believe she is gone. It does not make any sense to me at all. This time yesterday she was alive and well and had her whole life ahead of her and now she’s gone. I just can’t get my head around all of this.

Tullamore Fatal Assault 005 Flowers left beside a Garda checkpoint at the Grand Canal Towpath, Capancur, Offaly, near the scene of the fatal assault on Ashling Murphy Source: Eamonn Farrell via RollingNews.ie

Irish traditional music movement Comhaltas issued a statement in the aftermath of Ashling’s death.

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The statement spoke of her immense musical ability as well as her kind and caring nature.

“She was an exceptionally talented young lady who made an unforgettable impression on all who had the good fortune to know her.

“Ashling was among the finest exponents of the concertina and fiddle and was also learning the uilleann pipes. She has featured in our Comhaltas Concert Tours and was also a valued member of the Comhaltas National Folk Orchestra of Ireland.

“The brutal manner of her death – in the middle of the day – as she jogged by the banks of the peaceful canal in Tullamore has left us numbed and bewildered. The suffering of her family at the loss of such a young and beautiful person is beyond understanding.”

Kilcormac/Killoughey camogie club, of which Ashling was a proud member. also paid tribute to her.

“It is with profound sadness, devastation and shock that we learned of the untimely and tragic death of our friend, Ashling Murphy.

“Ashling was a much loved member of our junior and senior teams, having also played underage for the club.

“She entered and exited the pitch with a smile every time, was enthusiastic and pleasant to everyone, while also being quietly determined and dedicated, often driving from college in Limerick to attend training.

“She will be sadly missed by her devastated friends and teammates.

“The thoughts and prayers of the Kilcormac/Killoughey Camogie Club committee, members and wider camogie community go out to her family, friends, teammates, colleagues and students at this difficult time.”

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