‘All our hearts are broken’: Vigils take place in Cork and across the country for Ashling Murphy

“She’s a daughter, she’s a sister, she’s a schoolteacher, and it’s hitting us all very hard.”
‘All our hearts are broken’: Vigils take place in Cork and across the country for Ashling Murphy

People light candles and lay flowers at the candlelight vigil for Ashling Murphy outside the Sexual Violence Centre at Camden Place, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

Vigils have taken place in Cork and across the country to remember Ashling Murphy.

Ms Murphy, a primary school teacher in Tullamore, was killed on Wednesday afternoon along the banks of the Grand Canal at Cappincur.

Ashling Murphy's mother Kathleen Murphy, father Raymond Murphy, brother Cathal Murphy and sister Amy Murphy comfort one another as they attend a candle-lit vigil near the scene of her murder in Tullamore. Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
Ashling Murphy's mother Kathleen Murphy, father Raymond Murphy, brother Cathal Murphy and sister Amy Murphy comfort one another as they attend a candle-lit vigil near the scene of her murder in Tullamore. Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

In Tullamore, shops, businesses and cafes closed early yesterday evening, as the midlands town came largely to a halt as thousands flocked to attend the vigil in a local park.

There were many tears as people of all ages came to mourn and pay their respects to the young teacher.

Ms Murphy’s family attended a candlelit vigil near the murder scene.

At the event, her father, Ray Murphy, paid a poignant tribute to the talented young musician by performing her favourite song on the banjo.

He broke down in tears while playing the final chords of ‘When You Were Sweet Sixteen’.

'Today is about remembering Ashling'

In Cork, staff at the HSE vaccination clinic at City Hall paused yesterday to remember Ashling.

A vigil also took place at the Sexual Violence Centre Cork, where centre director Mary Crilly said: “Today is about remembering Ashling, who was murdered this week, and remembering the other 244 women who have been murdered since 1997.

“I don’t think today is a day for speeches. It’s a day for grieving, it’s a day for reflecting, it’s a day for really hoping that this will make a change in Irish society.

“Women have done as much as they can do to keep themselves safe, they’re watching what they do, they’re watching where they walk, they’re watching what they have in their hands, they’re watching everything, and I don’t think that men realise that that is what women do on a daily basis to survive.

“I think that once men realise this, and engage with this, things will change, but men need to become part of the conversation at this stage.”

Dola Twomey from the centre added: “Today is for every woman who’s afraid, terrified, and horrified, because they live their life is in fear, and their worst fears have been realised, and it could be any one of us.

“That is something we have to change.”

Caitríona Twomey from Cork Penny Dinners was also at the vigil.

She said the death of Ashling Murphy had hit people “very hard”.

“All our hearts are broken. All our hearts are broken for Ashling, and for her family, and for all the women that have died by violence.

“She’s a daughter, she’s a sister, she’s a schoolteacher, and it’s hitting us all very hard.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin was among those who gathered outside the Dáil for a vigil yesterday.

Earlier, he said that the murder of the young teacher had “united the nation in solidarity and revulsion”.

Mr Martin said: “No stone will be left unturned in terms of bringing this investigation to a completion and to bring the person responsible for this to justice.”

He said a new national strategy that was being developed to tackle sexual, domestic, and gender-based violence in Ireland would adopt a “zero-tolerance” approach.

“There has to be a broad societal approach and realisation that there has to be zero tolerance for any sort of violence,” he said.

Mr Martin said he had spoken to the Murphy family.

“I just wanted, like everybody across the country, on behalf of the people to express our solidarity with them and our devastation. The fact that a beautiful young woman has been taken from their lives,” he said.

'The loss of Ashling is a loss to all of us'

President Michael D Higgins also spoke with the family of Ashling Murphy.

Speaking yesterday he said: “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.”

The president said it was “of crucial importance” that “we take this opportunity... to reflect on what needs to be done to eliminate violence against women in all its aspects from our society”.

“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.

Staff members from Cork City Hall vaccination centre light a candle and raise a torch during a vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy.
Staff members from Cork City Hall vaccination centre light a candle and raise a torch during a vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy.

“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.”

Gardaí are continuing to appeal for information in relation to the investigation into Ms Murphy’s death.

On Thursday, officers released a man they had been questioning, saying he was “no longer a suspect”.

Last night, a Garda spokesperson said that significant progress had been made in the investigation.

It was being widely reported that they had identified a second man who they want to speak to.

Both Cork City Council and Cork County Council have opened books of condolences to allow anyone who would like to pay their respects and express solidarity with the young teacher and her family and friends, to do so.

Vigils in Cork

A number of vigils have been organised to take place in Cork over the coming days. All are welcome to attend, however social distancing and mask-wearing is requested to keep everyone safe.

Saturday, January 15

  • Cork City: 9.30am — meeting at Atlantic Pond (Páirc Uí Chaoimh side) and walking back along the Marina.
  • Cork City: 2pm — meeting outside Brown Thomas on Patrick’s Street.
  • Kinsale: 4pm — meeting at Trident Hotel and walking through the town, over by Compass Quay, lighting candles at the bridges for Ashling and her family.
  • Ballydehob: 4pm — meeting at the Ballydehob playground.

Sunday, January 16

  • Carrigaline: 4pm — meeting at the Carrigaline Park bandstand for a memorial walk.
  • Kinsale: 3pm — meeting at the Town Park with a run to The Dock and back.
  • Bantry: 4pm — the Quay Area

Monday, January 17

  • Bandon: 7pm — meeting at Bridge lane Bandon (the outdoor seating area at the fish corner).

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