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'A woman's worst nightmare': A nation in shock and anger after murder of Ashling Murphy

The 23-year-old teacher was killed when she was attacked along the canal bank in Tullamore.

Flowers and a card left at Fiona's Way following the death of Ashling Murphy.
Flowers and a card left at Fiona's Way following the death of Ashling Murphy.
Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

SHE WAS GOING for a run. Those five words have been trending since yesterday evening following the tragic death of Ashling Murphy. 

The 23-year-old teacher was killed when she was attacked along the canal bank in Tullamore, Co. Offaly yesterday afternoon. 

A number of vigils are already being planned in memory of Ashling, including one in Galway tonight and more in Limerick and Dublin tomorrow.

The killing has shocked the nation in manner rarely seen, with Justice Minister Helen McEntee calling it “truly shocking”. 

“I know people are feeling shocked but also angry and I share that anger,” the minister told reporters this afternoon. 

This is a woman’s worst nightmare. And I say that because while no woman should have to take measures when they’re going out and about to stay safe. Ashling was out during the day, it was bright, there was a lot of people about and she was in an area that local people felt was always safe. 

“So everything will be done to ensure that the gardai have the support that they need to bring about justice and that whoever is responsible for this will face the full rigours of the law. 

The killing has prompted further discussion about the need to improve the safety of women within Irish society. 

A fact that was made all the more real following Ashling’s death on the stretch of canal called ‘Fiona’s Way’ – named after Fiona Pender, a 25-year-old local woman who went missing while pregnant in August 1996.

Singer-songwriter Imelda May referenced this cruel coincidence. 

Women’s Aid, which works to prevent and address the impact of domestic violence and abuse, has called for zero tolerance of all forms of male violence against women. 

“The killing of women is the extreme end of a spectrum of violence and abuse that women in Ireland and across the world experience every day,” CEO Sarah Benson said today.  

 Women are not afraid of the dark or a lonely space. They are afraid of a violent male perpetrator in the dark.  Not all men are violent, and I don’t think anyone is claiming that. However, the majority of violence against women, and indeed men, is perpetrated by men.   That’s something as a whole society, including men, we need to tackle.

Many people have been attempting to capture their pain, anger and sorry following Ashling’s killing: 

Mental health advocate Blezzing Dada wrote

Ashling Murphy is her name. Her life mattered. So much ahead. To be remembered as a face, a cherished person. Not just a statistic. To lose your life, randomly, just jogging coincidentally in the area known as Fiona’s Way, in memory of another missing woman. What is going on?Desensitisation  to violence against women needs to not become a common theme. By refusing to accept that violence against women is not just a problem but an epidemic — you are complicit. It is also never the time to justify any form of racism from the ill intentioned individuals. 

Many others have also focused on the need for men to acknowledge their primary role in making life safer for women. 

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Ashling was a talented musician and several people have been sharing clips of the young woman playing the violin. 

Irish traditional music organisation Comhaltas has this afternoon paid tribute to Ashling, who was a member of the National Folk Orchestra of Ireland, and played fiddle and concertina:  

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. We share their grief with them and we will always remember Ashling as one who enriched our lives with her warm personality; uplifting musicmaking; compassionate, outgoing and generous friendship.Ashling, you will always be in our thoughts and prayers as we cherish the memories and friendship of your short but exceptional life.

“Ar dheis Dé go raibh do anam uasal ceolmhar. From all your musical colleagues and friends in Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.”

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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