Sam Boal

AS IT HAPPENED: Thousands attend vigils across country in memory of Ashling Murphy

The 23-year-old teacher was killed while going for a run along the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore.

VIGILS IN MEMORY of Ashling Murphy, who was killed in Tullamore on Wednesday, have been held around the country this evening.

Tullamore, Dublin, Limerick and Belfast were among the locations where solidarity vigils were arranged for the 23-year-old primary school teacher who was attacked along the canal bank way in Cappincur.

Family friends and locals in Tullamore remembered Ashling as a talented traditional musician and as someone whose smile would “light up a room”. She was loved by her pupils at Durrow National School, and was a valued member of the Comhaltas National Folk Orchestra of Ireland given her immense musical ability on the concertina and fiddle. 

A full list of towns and cities hosting vigils today and over the weekend can be found here.


Here’s our reporting throughout this afternoon:

Our reporter Garreth MacNamee is in Tullamore where crowds have started to gather at the local park. Some have arrived with musical instruments as part of a tribute to the gifted musician, while others lay flowers and notes at a mural for Ashling. 

Reporting from the scene earlier, Garreth writes that the atmosphere in the Offally town has shifted from one of sadness to frustration and anger following recent developments in the case.

You can follow all of his updates from the scene here. 

Outside Leinster House, The National Women’s Council of Ireland is holding a vigil to reflect the “huge outpouring of grief” following Ashling’s murder.

Reporting from Kildare Street, Céimin Burke describes the heavy silence on the crowd as incredibly moving with many people holding candles, hugging their friends, and crying.

Ashling Murphy vigil 008 Grace Corrigan, her friend of 20 years, addressing the crowd. Sam Boal / RN Sam Boal / RN / RN

Ashling’s life-long friend Grace addressed the crowd outside Leinster House, sharing some of the fond memories they shared:

“At the Fleadh’s, Ashling would take it easy on them because she always had competition because she was at that level of musicianship where she would compete every year.

“She let her hair down at Willie Clancy [summer school] and Tullamore Tradfest… You’d look over at her in a session and she’d give you a big wink, with an even bigger smile on her face.

“So happy all the time, she’d lift you up. If she asked you ‘how are you’, she genuinely cared for the answer. She was just such a caring, caring person.

“On behalf of every musician here tonight, every musician all over the country, our deepest, deepest condolences go out to Ray, to Kathleen, her brother Cathal, her best friend Amy and above all, her boyfriend Ryan Casey.

“My heart is just broken for them all.

“(She was) just an incredible, beautiful person. This shouldn’t have happened to her. They shouldn’t be going through that, the Murphys shouldn’t. Ashling, we absolutely love you and we will never, ever forget you.”

Ashling Murphy vigil 003 Women gathered outside Dail Eireann this afternoon

President Michael D Higgins paid tribute to Ashling’s “short but brilliant and generous life” in a statement this afternoon:

People throughout Ireland, in every generation, have been expressing their shock, grief, anger and upset at the horrific murder of Ashling Murphy.

This morning I spoke to Ashling’s family to convey, as President on behalf of the people of Ireland, and on behalf of Sabina and myself as parents, my profound sympathy and sorrow and sense of loss that her tragic death has meant to so many, but what in particular it must mean to her mother Kathleen, father Raymond, sister Amy and brother Cathal.

I sought to convey a sense of how so many parents, families, indeed all of the people of Ireland are thinking of the Murphy family at this very sad time. The loss of Ashling is a loss to all of us, but to her family it is beyond description.

The outpouring of grief at the death of Ashling shows how we have all been very touched, and it is so exemplary for young and old, to read of all Ashling’s accomplishments during her short but brilliant and generous life.

Those who knew, studied with her, or as we have heard, loved her as a young gifted teacher, all have borne witness to a life of generous commitment to her local community and to her creativity. As a young, talented and enthusiastic teacher she had already made such a positive impact on her young students and colleagues at school. To hear them speak of her is such a testament to the joy of sharing, be it in teaching, music or sport, that she conveyed in a way which must have brought much joy to all. She represented the best of her generation, in a life they will recall as inspirational.

It is of crucial importance that we take this opportunity, as so many people have already done in the short time since Ashling’s death, to reflect on what needs to be done to eliminate violence against women in all its aspects from our society, and how that work can neither be postponed nor begin too early.

May I suggest to all our people to reflect on all of our actions and attitudes – and indeed those we may have been leaving unchallenged amongst those whom we know – and do all we can to ensure that the society we live in is one where all of our citizens are free to live their lives, participate fully, in an atmosphere that is unencumbered by risks for their safety. Let us respond to this moment of Ashling’s death by committing to the creation of a kinder, more compassionate and empathetic society for all, one that will seek to eliminate all threats of violence against any of our citizens, and commit in particular to bringing an end, at home and abroad, to violence against women in any of its forms.

Suaimhneas síoraí dá hanam uasal dílis, Ashling.”

Following a minutes silence on Kildare Street, the crowd sings A Woman’s Heart as the vigil in Dublin draws to a close.

Ashling Murphy vigil 017 Sam Boal Sam Boal

an-taoiseach-micheal-martin-with-ivana-bacik-left-attending-a-vigil-at-leinster-house-dublin-for-the-murdered-aisling-murphy-who-died-after-being-attacked-while-she-was-jogging-along-the-grand-can An Taoiseach Micheal Martin with Ivana Bacik (left) attending a vigil at Leinster House. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Ashling Murphy vigil 001 A candle in the hands of An Taoiseach outside Dail Eireann


people-attending-a-vigil-at-leinster-house-dublin-for-the-murdered-aisling-murphy-who-died-after-being-attacked-while-she-was-jogging-along-the-grand-canal-in-tullamore-county-offaly-on-wednesday Hundreds turned out on Dublin's Kildare Street. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

IMG_20220114_162728 Céimin Burke / TheJournal Céimin Burke / TheJournal / TheJournal

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has told reporters that he understands the people in Tullamore “must be very worried” but said that every gardaí resource has been put into the case.

“I want to reassure people that all of the resources of the gardaí are going into making sure that this person is found and that they’re brought to justice and that people can feel safe again,” he said.

Varadkar said the incident has “caused us to think a little bit more about gender-based violence”.

“This is something that men and women alike need to combat together. I think for men, in particular, we need to make sure that we understand and that we teach our boys that violence against women is never justified,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter who she is, doesn’t matter where it was, doesn’t matter what time of day it is, it’s never justified, it’s always wrong.”

Varadkar said that “there is a culture in our society that creates the conditions in which violence against women happens too frequently, not just in public places, but also in people’s homes and workplaces”.

“We as men have a particular responsibility in that regard to understand the factors that give rise to attitudes of violence against women, and in particular, to teach our boys and teach our teenagers about what’s right and wrong.

Ashling Murphy vigil 005 Director of the National Women's Council of Ireland Orla O'Connor outside Leinster House. Sam Boal / RN Sam Boal / RN / RN

The death of Ashling Murphy must be “a watershed moment to end violence against women”, the director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland has told the crowd outside Leinster House.

“It’s really overwhelming to see all of you gathered here this afternoon in memory of Ashling, in support of her and her friends, and I think, in support of all women in Ireland,” Orla O’Connor said, according to the Press Association.

“We’re very conscious this evening just how triggering this must be for so many women who have also experienced physical or sexual violence, and those of you who have also lost people who are close to you and those you love.

“She was a young woman, she was a teacher, she was a musician, she was a daughter, a sister, a friend to many and a mentor to many. A young woman, with her whole life ahead of her. She’s gone.

“We come here this afternoon to remember Ashling, to show our support to her devastated family and friends, and we’re here to support each other as we collectively grieve a woman’s death. A woman’s death that should not have happened.

“I know as well from all of you who have been contacting the National Women’s Council that we’re also here because we’re angry. We’re angry that another woman’s life has been taken.”

Speaking to the media at a vigil in Belfast, Stormont deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said there had been an “outpouring of grief” following Ashling’s murder.

“At the start of this week I launched a strategy. I called for views in terms of developing a strategy to tackle male violence against women. Little did I know on Monday that I’d be standing here only a short number of days later, joining with other women who have gathered here outside Belfast City Hall to show solidarity to the family and all that loved Ashling Murphy,” O’Neill said.

“A horrific murder of another woman in our society at the hands of a male.

“We are all here because we want to show that support, that love.

“There has been an outpouring of grief all week for Ashling Murphy and for all that loved her.”

In Tullamore, local priest Father Joe Gallagher addressed the vigil in before calling for a minute’s silence.

PA reports he told the gathering attended by all the main religious groups from the area: “We remember her heartbroken family, her colleagues in work, in music, in sport, in friendship and her young pupils in first class who loved their teacher.

“This is a time of grief beyond words. We need to be together. We need to support one another in this dark time.

“We stand together, united with groups all over our country, and indeed beyond, united with women who fear and know the trauma of violence. United in grief, in anger, in shock.

“In this dark evening, we want to hold a light in our hands, to stand together in solidarity with one another to share our tears and deep grief. Time to pray, to reflect, to listen, to be together.”

Afterwards, the crowd hear from local Offaly poets with one piece called “She went for a run”.

Our reporter Garreth McNamee reports that the vigil in Tullamore town has reached its emotional conclusion.

An extremely large crowd turned out to pay tribute to Aisling and to show support for the entire Murphy family.

Friends and family continued to play traditional Irish music in her honour as darkness started to fall on the vigil with the hundreds of lit candles now shining more prominently than before.

The Tullamore community, as well as the rest of the country, came together to comfort the many left bereaved by Ashling’s passing.

A number of local authorities around the country have opened books of condolences for people to extend their sympathies to Ashling’s family.

If you wish to pay your respect to the Murphy family, here are a selection of local authorities with the option to sign online:

14th-january-2022-belfast-city-hall-a-candlelit-display-for-23-year-old-ashling-murphy-who-was-killed-in-county-offaly A candlelit display for 23 year old Ashling Murphy outside Belfast City Hall Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Young musicians who knew and had played with Ashling performed at a vigil in her memory in Belfast, PA reports.

Following the reading of a poem highlighting the issue of violence against women, the crowd of several hundred paused for a minute of silence to remember the young teacher who was murdered in Co Offaly this week.

The space at the front of Belfast City Hall was adorned with flowers and candles as people left their tributes in front of a photograph of Ashling

One of the vigil organisers, Emma Gallen, said: “We all saw the news, we all saw about Ashling Murphy, and we all thought we had to do something.

“We couldn’t just stand by and not acknowledge that a murder happened in daylight of someone who was at the beginning of her life.

“We wanted to mark the grief that we all feel and to come together to mark how sad we all are, and how angry we all are.”

14th-january-2022-belfast-city-hall-a-member-of-reclaim-the-night-belfast-addresses-the-public-at-a-candlelit-vigil-for-23-year-old-ashling-murphy-who-was-killed-in-county-offaly A member of Reclaim the Night Belfast addresses the public at a candlelit vigil for Ashling. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

As we bring this evening’s liveblog to a close, gardaí have issued an update on Ashling’s case, saying they have made “significant progress” in the murder investigation.

“Significant progress has been made in the investigation to date,” the statement said, however, “An Garda Siochana is not confirming any specific details for operational reasons”.

Gardaí also said the Murphy family have been “overwhelmed” by the national outpouring of support and are now requesting “privacy, space and time to process Ashling’s death”.

Gardaí reiterated their appeal for people who may have any information on the fatal assault to come forward, and in particular, gardaí are looking for information on a Falcon Storm mountain bike.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Tullamore Garda Station on 057 9357060, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station.


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