Sunday, January 16, 2022

Vigils across the island of Ireland to commemorate Ashling Murphy

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Vigils were held across the island of Ireland to commemorate murdered primary school teacher Ashling Murphy.

Thousands of people gathered in Tullamore, Dublin and Belfast, among many other cities, late in the afternoon to pay tribute to the 23-year-old.

Ms Murphy’s family attended a candlelit vigil near the scene of the crime on Friday night.

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

He burst into tears playing the closing chords of When You Were Sweet Sixteen.

Mr Murphy, along with his wife Kathleen and daughter Amy, walked to the opposite side of the canal where his daughter was attacked and died on Wednesday.

Irish police are continuing their search for the killer of Ms Murphy, who was found dead after walking on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore, Co Offaly.

Lake Garda said it had made “significant progress” in its investigation after detectives reportedly identified a person of interest. Gardai said they would not release details for operational reasons.

Gardai also said the Murphy family was “appreciative and overwhelmed by the national outpouring of support being shown to them.”

Taoiseach Micheal Martin was among those who stood silently outside the Dail Parliament in Dublin on Friday, while Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill joined the crowd at Belfast City Hall.

The events came as the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, paid his own tribute to Ms. Murphy and called on society to reflect on what it takes to eliminate violence against women.

“The sadness of Ashling’s passing shows how deeply touched we are all, and it is so exemplary for young and old to read about Ashling’s achievements during her short but brilliant and generous life,” he said.

Further vigils and commemorative events will take place in the coming days.

Shops, shops and cafes closed in Tullamore early Friday as the Midlands city largely came to a standstill as thousands attended the vigil at a local park.

Many tears shed as people of all ages came to mourn and pay their respects to Teacher.

Friends of Ms Murphy were among the traditional Irish musicians who played at the vigil.

Local priest Father Joe Gallagher addressed the crowd before calling for a minute’s silence. All the major religious groups in the area attended the gathering.

“We remember her heartbroken family, her peers at work, in music, in sports, in friendship, and her young students in the first grade who loved their teacher,” Father Gallagher said.

“This is a time of sadness without words. we need to be together We must support each other in this dark time.

“We stand together, united with groups across our country and even beyond, united with women who fear and know the trauma of violence. United in sadness, anger, shock.

“On this dark evening we want to hold a light in our hands, standing together in solidarity to share our tears and our deep sorrow. Time to pray, think, listen, be together.”

Attracta Brady, Ms Murphy’s first violin teacher, played along with other musicians at the Tullamore vigil.

“She was the most beautiful girl inside and out,” she said.

“She was every parent’s dream. She was everything you want in a daughter. She had integrity, she was honest, she was trustworthy. She was quirky and a little cheeky at times, with the prettiest smile, and she would get away with it because she had this beautiful sparkly smile.

“She was never in a bad mood, she was always smiling and loved her violin. Her parents told me just yesterday that she never had to be asked to practice. She was bright and energetic and everyone loved her.”

Earlier, Taoiseach Martin said the killing “united the nation in solidarity and revulsion.”

“Every effort will be made to bring this investigation to a conclusion and bring the person responsible to justice,” he said.

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