The funeral of Ashling Murphy took place this morning.
The 23-year-old primary school teacher was jogging along the Royal Canal in Tullamore, Co. Offaly last Wednesday when she was murdered in broad daylight.
Thousands gathered for the Ashling’s funeral at St. Brigid’s Church in Mountbolus on Tuesday morning, and her first class pupils at Durrow National School formed a guard of honour outside the church.
The children each held a photograph of their teacher on her graduation day, along with a single red rose.
President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabine attended the funeral and offered their condolences to Ashling’s parents Raymond and Kathleen, sister Amy, brother Cathal and boyfriend Ryan.
Symbols of Ashling’s life were brought to the altar, including a fiddle, a camogie jersey, a hurl, a family photo, and a school book.
Local musicians, including Ashling’s childhood friend Ella Flaherty, performed music during the mass.
Bishop Tom Deenihan described the days since Ashling’s murder last Wednesday as a “nightmare”.
He said: “A walk on a mild and sunny afternoon in January should be a happy event, promising the brighter and warmer days of spring and summer. That, as we know, was not the case.”
“A depraved act of violence which deprived a kind, talented, loved and admired young woman of her life has since united the country in grief and support.”
“The crime has also asked questions of ourselves and of society. Whether those questions will be addressed or passed over remains to be seen but we cannot allow such violence and disregard for both human life and bodily integrity take root in our time and culture.”
“Pope Francis in his homily for New Year’s Day just two weeks ago said that violence against women was an insult to God.”
Bishop Deenihan said “respect” was missing on the day of Ashling’s murder, but it has “re-emerged here all the stronger”.
He said the support and sympathy showed by the nation in the wake of this tragedy was a “a chink of light to last week’s darkness”.
“It was manifested at the various vigils, it was manifested by those who assisted here, at the family home and in Durrow school over the past few days by those who quietly and discreetly provided refreshments, stewarding and whatever help that they could.”
“Community is important and community works,” he added.
Bishop Deenihan described Ashling was a woman who lived “the short years given to her to the full, who developed her talents, who reached out to others, who made a difference, who brought happiness and who was loved”.
Fr Michael Meade said: “Together we grieve, we pray, we hurt – this is the heavy price we pay for love – we gather as a family of faith, to be with, to support by our prayer and our presence, those whose darkness is deep, whose pain is raw and fierce.”
“The issues raised in many ways and by many voices since this horrible act of violence invaded all our lives will, we pray, continue to evolve and bring the change we need so much, to simply give and show respect.”
“Today we give thanks for the privilege of sharing in this most wonderful gift of Ashling Murphy, today we share our love, our grief, our faith and our comfort with the Murphy and Leonard families.”
Ashling will be buried at Lowertown Cemetery after the funeral mass.
There has been an outpour of anger and sadness over Ashling’s death, as it has once again highlighted male violence against women in Ireland, and the danger women face on a daily basis.
There have been hundreds of vigils held across Ireland and across the globe in honour of the late primary school teacher.
The Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline is 1800 341 900. For help and support you can also log onto www.womensaid.ie.
Gardaí are appealing for people with information surrounding Ashling’s murder to come forward, particularly anyone who was in the Cappincur/canal walk area of Tullamore before 4pm on Wednesday.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Tullamore garda station on 057 932 7600, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda station.