By Cate McCurry and James Ward, PA
The death of Ashling Murphy must be “a watershed moment to end violence against women”, a vigil for the late musician and teacher has heard.
Thousands of people gathered outside Leinster House in Dublin on Friday to pay their respects to the 23-year-old, who was found murdered on Wednesday after going for a run on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore, Co Offaly.
Addressing the crowd, director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) Orla O’Connor said: “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.
“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.”
“The death of Ashling Murphy must be a watershed moment to end violence against women,” she added.
The crowd sings Mary Black’s Only A Woman’s Heart to close the vigil for Ashling Murphy in Dublin. pic.twitter.com/0LQZmspdTf
— Cate McCurry (@CateMcCurry) January 14, 2022
Thousands of people filled the streets leading to the gates of Leinster House.
Among those who attended included Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, Labour’s Ivana Bacik, Rebecca Moynihan, Aodhan O Riordain and former minister Frances Fitzgerald.
A wall of silence filled the air as people huddled together clutching candles, flowers, placards and pictures of Ms Murphy.
Ms Murphy’s friend of over 20 years, Grace Corrigan, described her as one of the “nicest, kindest, most caring person you will ever possibly meet in your life”.
“She was so happy all of the time, she’d lift you up,” she added.
“She was the kind of person where, if she asked you ‘how are you?’, she genuinely cared for the answer, and she would repeat it back to you six months later. 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.”
People leaving floral tributes to murder victim Ashling Murphy who was killed on Wednesday. A large crowd has gathered outside the Dáil for her vigil. pic.twitter.com/HPAfk34eTb
— Cate McCurry (@CateMcCurry) January 14, 2022
Musicians who knew and played alongside Ms Murphy performed traditional Irish music, many of them struggling to hold back tears.
Margaret Martin, the deputy chairperson of the National Women’s Council and former director of Women’s Aid, said: “Ashling’s death leaves a hole is so many lives.
“She was so many things, a beloved daughter, sister, friend, colleague and teacher.
“Her horrific death has touched us and has triggered much distress and fear and anger.
“Sadly, alongside Ashling another 243 women have violently been killed since 1996.
“Today, we also think of their families and friends.”
Jim McAllister, from Comhaltas – a group that promotes Irish traditional music, said: “Ashling had a passion and her passion was music.
“She was a county champion, a provincial champion and an all-Ireland champion.
“Only ever the best get asked to go on Comhaltas tours, and Ashling was one of those.
“She was an integral part of the tour of Ireland in 2017.
“Unfortunately Ashling’s lifetime has been far too short.”
Ciara Brennan, who was among the thousands who attended, said: “We are all so devastated for Ashling and wanted to come today to remember her.
“We need to be here for each other and stand together.
“I am angry, and we are all so angry this happened to an innocent young woman.”
The crowd closed the vigil by singing Mary Black’s Only A Woman’s Heart.