‘This isn’t just about protecting our daughters, it’s about educating our sons’: Cork events in memory of Ashling Murphy

People in their droves gathered at various memorial events in Cork today to pay tribute to the young teacher and to highlight the devastation caused by violence against women in Ireland.
‘This isn’t just about protecting our daughters, it’s about educating our sons’: Cork events in memory of Ashling Murphy

Members of the public at the vigil. Vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy, organised by ROSA, at Patrick Street, this afternoon.Picture: Larry Cummins

“There’s nothing else we can do to change our behaviours to keep us safe.

“If worry would protect us, every woman would get home safe at the end of a day.” 

Those were the powerful words of Joyce Bartley from Ballincollig speaking to The Echo at the memorial walk held at the Atlantic Pond this morning in remembrance of the late Ashling Murphy.

The large crowd at the walk and vigil for Ashling Murphy at the Atlantic pond, Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Saturday. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
The large crowd at the walk and vigil for Ashling Murphy at the Atlantic pond, Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Saturday. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

It was just one of many events arranged in Cork and across the country to pay tribute to the young teacher and to highlight the devastation caused by violence against women in Ireland.

Friends, families and partners gathered at Páirc Uí Chaoimh where a minute's silence was observed before some music was played and sung in memory of Ashling.

The memorial walk then commenced around the Marina.

A small area on the grass by the pond was set up and many lit candles or laid flowers to pay tribute to Ashling.

Joyce Bartley attended the memorial event with her mother Chris.

Like everyone across the country, she was deeply saddened to hear of the shocking incident in Offaly earlier this week.

Lighting candles at the walk and vigil for Ashling Murphy at the Atlantic pond, Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Saturday. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Lighting candles at the walk and vigil for Ashling Murphy at the Atlantic pond, Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Saturday. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“It shouldn’t make a difference, but the fact that she was out for a run in the middle of the afternoon, after a busy day, planning for the next days’ work.

“She went out for the run and she didn’t survive her run.

“I run myself and I suppose it’s that personal association - I had been out for a walk at the same time and I woke the next morning to the news,” Joyce said.

Women, she said, should not have to live in a state of constant vigilance and action must be taken to crack down on gender-based violence.

The large crowd at the walk and vigil for Ashling Murphy at the Atlantic pond, Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Saturday. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
The large crowd at the walk and vigil for Ashling Murphy at the Atlantic pond, Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Saturday. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“It’s not the way we should have to live, constantly checking on ourselves, checking on our friends. 

“I have never been on a night out with my group of girl friends without demanding that we all message each other when we get home.

“There’s nothing else we can do to change our behaviours to keep us safe.

“If worry would protect us, every woman would get home safe at the end of a day.

“It’s about, I think, putting in place a disincentive, putting in place something that will make the behaviour of the perpetrators change.” 

Her mother Chris said that the fatal attack of Ashling Murphy has compounded a sense of vulnerability she already felt.

“I would go for a walk early in the morning, maybe 6:30am or so, and you would always be conscious but since this has happened, I’m thinking I won’t be doing that walk on my own at that time of the morning because you don’t know who you’re going to meet,” she said.

“As a mother when Joyce goes out for a walk or a run during the day, there is always something in the back of your mind and I would always say be careful and ask how long she will be.” 

Also at the memorial event at the Atlantic Pond was Catherine Millard, from the Douglas Road.

She spoke of the devastating impact Ashling’s killing has had on the country as a whole.

“Everybody is deeply shocked and it has had a huge effect on the whole country.

“For me personally, I have a daughter around that age and I felt it personally.

“I felt she could have been my daughter and that if girls aren’t safe to walk the streets, what an indictment that is of our community and our society.” 

Ms Millard said she feels there has been an erosion of respect down through the years and that a major societal change is needed to mitigate against gender-based violence.

“I think at the end of the day it comes down to families and parents and instilling respect. My generation had respect - men had respect.

“When you went out with somebody there was respect there but I think that’s all gone.

This was echoed by Ursula Ramsell who also attended the memorial event at the Atlantic Pond.

“The last few days have been very emotional.

“It’s been very sad and I have shed a lot of tears myself thinking of all the women who went missing long before this and it has taken a death to say let’s have a change in the culture.

“It’s no longer cool for young men or older men's ‘banter’ to be negative or derogatory towards women.

“That change I think starts in the home and in the school long before they start drinking in pubs,” she said.

Mary Crilly, sexual violence centre, Cork and Susan Huggins, walk organiser at the walk and vigil for Ashling Murphy at the Atlantic pond, Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Saturday. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Mary Crilly, sexual violence centre, Cork and Susan Huggins, walk organiser at the walk and vigil for Ashling Murphy at the Atlantic pond, Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Saturday. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Ian Silke from Carrigaline also attended the event alongside Alex Donnelly from Mallow in a show of solidarity.

“It’s always men perpetrating these acts,” Mr Silke said. “I think it’s a sliding scale, that’s my understanding of it.

“It starts at catcalling and then it can slide the whole way to physical abuse.

“The more we educate the youth, hopefully, these things will dissipate in the coming years.” 

Mr Donnelly added that Ashling has been in their thoughts for the last few days and he felt it was important to attend as a mark of respect and solidarity.

Elsewhere in Cork today, a standout outside Brown Thomas on Patrick Street was organised by the socialist feminist movement, ROSA.

Speaking at the memorial event, Martina Stafford of ROSA said the standout was organised as “an opportunity to express solidarity to Ashling, her loved ones and also to each other”.

 Martina Stafford, of ROSA at the vigil. Picture: Larry Cummins
Martina Stafford, of ROSA at the vigil. Picture: Larry Cummins

“I think we all realise that this [gender-based violence] is an endemic issue, that we all have experiences. 

“This wasn’t a once-off,” she said.

Mary Crilly, who is the director of the Sexual Violence Centre Cork, said the powerful displays of solidarity in Cork gives her reason to hope for a better future.

“Forty years ago when we started the centre, this would not have happened - there wouldn’t have been a gathering,” she said.

“It’s about getting the conversation going and getting men to think differently and do things differently and I think that’s what they want because they want their sisters, their daughters, their mothers, their grandmothers to go out or stay in or do whatever they do and feel safe.

“After 40 years of seeing violence against women, and violence against men but mainly women, day after day, I could say I despair, and sometimes I do, but the majority of the time working in Cork seeing people who hate injustice, oh by God I feel so much hope,” she continued.

 Crowds holding candles at the vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy, organised by ROSA, at Patrick Street, this afternoon. Picture: Larry Cummins
Crowds holding candles at the vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy, organised by ROSA, at Patrick Street, this afternoon. Picture: Larry Cummins

Solidarity TD for Cork North Central, Mick Barry also spoke at the standout on Patrick Street.

He said Ireland needs a “new culture” and that “it needs to be a culture of zero tolerance of toxic, sexist behaviour towards women”.

“It needs to be taught in our schools, it needs to be made clear to any Government that if you have a women’s refuge where people are doing brilliant work that is so underfunded that they have to turn people away, we’re not going to tolerate that anymore.

“It needs to say, if you have women who are in desperate situations facing violence or the threat of violence and they ring 999 that their calls are answered and their calls are responded to,” he said.

“Let this not just be a moment of tragedy, let it be a moment when the tide turns and we have a movement, a sustained movement, for real change on these issues in this country and everywhere.” 

Sinn Féin TD for Cork South Central, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire echoed this sentiment.

Members of the public at the vigil. Vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy, organised by ROSA, at Patrick Street, this afternoon.Picture: Larry Cummins
Members of the public at the vigil. Vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy, organised by ROSA, at Patrick Street, this afternoon.Picture: Larry Cummins

“I have a mixture of, and I think many people who I have spoken to, have a mixture of shock, of grief, of anger and of some hope as well, as Mary Crilly has said.

“And it’s all in there. It’s all in there because we don’t know if this hope will be realised.

“There is, to my mind, a feeling that this is a moment, a bit like what Savita [Halappanavar] and that moment did in terms of abortion and reproductive rights but we don’t know that and it’s up to us and it’s up to men as well as women to make sure that that happens - that we change our laws where they need to be changed and that we challenge culture, that we challenge casual sexism, that we challenge violent sexism, that we challenge violence and that we don’t tolerate it.

“This isn’t just about protecting our daughters, it’s about educating our sons and making sure that they are better than the generations that have gone before.” 

Members of the public at the vigil. Vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy, organised by ROSA, at Patrick Street, this afternoon.Picture: Larry Cummins
Members of the public at the vigil. Vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy, organised by ROSA, at Patrick Street, this afternoon.Picture: Larry Cummins

Ashling Murphy (23) was fatally attacked while out running beside the Grand Canal at Cappincur in Offaly, on Wednesday afternoon.

A 40-year-old man who had been arrested and detained in connection with the fatal assault was released from Garda custody on Thursday night and declared no longer to be a suspect in the case.

In a statement yesterday evening, Gardaí said “significant progress” has been made in the investigation to date but added that specific details could not be confirmed for operational reasons.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

EL_music

Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more