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Ashling Murphy funeral: Boyfriend says schoolteacher ‘was my soulmate, is my soulmate, will always be my soulmate’

  • ‘She is the greatest love of my life’ – boyfriend Ryan Casey
  • Bishop Tom Deenihan says murder questions ‘our values and morality’
  • National School pupils provide guard of honour for young teacher
  • Symbols representing Ashling’s life include family photograph and musical instrument 

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Tributes to Ashling Murphy at a shrine on the Grand Canal in Tullamore, Co Offaly. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Tributes to Ashling Murphy at a shrine on the Grand Canal in Tullamore, Co Offaly. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Teachers and pupils of Coolanarney national school in Tullamore who held a guard of honour as the funeral cortege of Ashling Murphy passed her former school in Offaly. Photo: Mark Condren

Teachers and pupils of Coolanarney national school in Tullamore who held a guard of honour as the funeral cortege of Ashling Murphy passed her former school in Offaly. Photo: Mark Condren

Ashling Murphy who was killed by a stranger while jogging along a canal bank in Tullamore pictured on her Graduation Day. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Ashling Murphy who was killed by a stranger while jogging along a canal bank in Tullamore pictured on her Graduation Day. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Taoiseach Micheál Martin arriving for the funeral of Ashling Murphy at the Church of Saint Brigid, Mountbolus, Co Offaly this morning. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Taoiseach Micheál Martin arriving for the funeral of Ashling Murphy at the Church of Saint Brigid, Mountbolus, Co Offaly this morning. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The coffin of Ashling Murphy passes Lowertown Cemetery en route to her funeral mass at St Brigid's Church in Mountbolus. Photo: Steve Humphreys

The coffin of Ashling Murphy passes Lowertown Cemetery en route to her funeral mass at St Brigid's Church in Mountbolus. Photo: Steve Humphreys

The hearse passes Lowertown Cemetery en route to Ashling Murphy's funeral mass at St Brigid's Church in Mountbolus. Photo: Steve Humphreys

The hearse passes Lowertown Cemetery en route to Ashling Murphy's funeral mass at St Brigid's Church in Mountbolus. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Mourners gather outside the church before the funeral for Ashling Murphy

Mourners gather outside the church before the funeral for Ashling Murphy

Minister of State Pippa Hackett and Justice Minister Helen McEntee (right) at the funeral of Ashling Murphy outside the Church of Saint Brigid, Mountbolus, Co Offaly this morning. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Minister of State Pippa Hackett and Justice Minister Helen McEntee (right) at the funeral of Ashling Murphy outside the Church of Saint Brigid, Mountbolus, Co Offaly this morning. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The funeral cortege of Ashling Murphy. Photo: Mark Condren

The funeral cortege of Ashling Murphy. Photo: Mark Condren

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Tributes to Ashling Murphy at a shrine on the Grand Canal in Tullamore, Co Offaly. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Ashling Murphy’s boyfriend has described her as his “soulmate” and “the greatest love of my life” in a heartbreaking tribute as the schoolteacher was laid to rest.

Ryan Casey described Ashling as everyone’s “shining light”.

“It’s simply not possible to explain what Ashling meant to myself or her family or friends in these few brief words. All I’d like to say in this moment and time is that Ashling was in fact our shining light. She loved her mum Kathleen, her father Ray, her big sister Amy and her big brother Cathal, and all of her family and friends so much,” he said.

“She was always there, always willing to help anybody anywhere at any time and always put herself last. She had so many hobbies and talents which all combined to make her the incredible, loving and beautiful person we all were so lucky to know and loved to spend as much time with as possible.

“Ashling was so much more to me than a girlfriend, she was my soulmate, she is my soulmate, she will always be my soulmate. She is the greatest love of my life. I will cherish the last five years we spent together my entire life. I hope that someday, God willing, we can be reunited once more and continue the great plans we had made for each other,” he said.

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18/01/2022  Taoiseach Micheal Martin TD arriving for the funeral of Ashling Murphy at the Church ofÊSaint Brigid Mountbolus Co Offaly this morning. 
Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

18/01/2022 Taoiseach Micheal Martin TD arriving for the funeral of Ashling Murphy at the Church ofÊSaint Brigid Mountbolus Co Offaly this morning. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

18/01/2022 Members of Ashling Murphy camogie team gather for the funeral of Ashling Murphy at the Church ofÊSaint Brigid Mountbolus Co Offaly this morning. 
Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

18/01/2022 Members of Ashling Murphy camogie team gather for the funeral of Ashling Murphy at the Church ofÊSaint Brigid Mountbolus Co Offaly this morning. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Funeral cortege of Ashling Murphy arriving at the Church of Saint Brigid, Mountbolus, Co Offaly this morning for her funeral mass.

Funeral cortege of Ashling Murphy arriving at the Church of Saint Brigid, Mountbolus, Co Offaly this morning for her funeral mass.

funeral of Ashling Murphy at the Church of Saint Brigid Mountbolus Co Offaly this morning. 
Picture By Gerry Mooney.

funeral of Ashling Murphy at the Church of Saint Brigid Mountbolus Co Offaly this morning. Picture By Gerry Mooney.

18/01/2022
A priest holds the mass booklet for Ashling Murphy outside St Brigid's Church this morning.
 Family  friends and mourners gather for the funeral of Ashling Murphy at the Church of Saint Brigid Mountbolus Co Offaly this morning. 
Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

18/01/2022 A priest holds the mass booklet for Ashling Murphy outside St Brigid's Church this morning. Family friends and mourners gather for the funeral of Ashling Murphy at the Church of Saint Brigid Mountbolus Co Offaly this morning. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

School children from 1st class Durrow National School with family friends and mourners arriving for the funeral of Ashling Murphy at the Church of Saint Brigid Mountbolus Co Offaly this morning.  Picture by Gerry Mooney

School children from 1st class Durrow National School with family friends and mourners arriving for the funeral of Ashling Murphy at the Church of Saint Brigid Mountbolus Co Offaly this morning. Picture by Gerry Mooney

Mourners gather outside the church before the funeral for Ashling Murphy

Mourners gather outside the church before the funeral for Ashling Murphy

Minister of State Pippa Hackett and Justice Minister Helen McEntee (right) at the funeral of Ashling Murphy outside the Church of Saint Brigid, Mountbolus, Co Offaly this morning. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Minister of State Pippa Hackett and Justice Minister Helen McEntee (right) at the funeral of Ashling Murphy outside the Church of Saint Brigid, Mountbolus, Co Offaly this morning. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Teachers and Pupil's of Coolanarney national school in Tullamore who held a guard of honour as the funeral cortège of Ashling Murphy passed her former school.
Pic:Mark Condren
18.1.2022

Teachers and Pupil's of Coolanarney national school in Tullamore who held a guard of honour as the funeral cortège of Ashling Murphy passed her former school. Pic:Mark Condren 18.1.2022

The funeral of Ashling Murphy passes Lowertown Cemetary en route to her funeral mass at ST Brigids Church in Mountbolus. 
Photo by Steve Humphreys
18th January 2022.

The funeral of Ashling Murphy passes Lowertown Cemetary en route to her funeral mass at ST Brigids Church in Mountbolus. Photo by Steve Humphreys 18th January 2022.

TULLAMORE, IRELAND - JANUARY 18: Mourners walk beside the hearse carrying the coffin of Ashling Murphy as the cortege arrives for her funeral at St. Brigids Church, County Offaly on January 18, 2022 in Tullamore, Ireland. The murder of the beloved 23 year old school teacher has caused widespread anger and shock in Ireland, with tens of thousands of people attending vigils in recent days. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

TULLAMORE, IRELAND - JANUARY 18: Mourners walk beside the hearse carrying the coffin of Ashling Murphy as the cortege arrives for her funeral at St. Brigids Church, County Offaly on January 18, 2022 in Tullamore, Ireland. The murder of the beloved 23 year old school teacher has caused widespread anger and shock in Ireland, with tens of thousands of people attending vigils in recent days. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

The funeral of Ashling Murphy passes Lowertown Cemetary en route to her funeral mass at ST Brigids Church in Mountbolus. 
Photo by Steve Humphreys
18th January 2022.

The funeral of Ashling Murphy passes Lowertown Cemetary en route to her funeral mass at ST Brigids Church in Mountbolus. Photo by Steve Humphreys 18th January 2022.

Local people outside St. Brigids Church , Mountbolus where prayers were said for murdered Ashling Murphy ahead of her funeral on Tuesday   Picture; Gerry Mooney

Local people outside St. Brigids Church , Mountbolus where prayers were said for murdered Ashling Murphy ahead of her funeral on Tuesday Picture; Gerry Mooney

Local people outside St. Brigids Church , Mountbolus where prayers were said for murdered Ashling Murphy ahead of her funeral on Tuesday   Picture; Gerry Mooney

Local people outside St. Brigids Church , Mountbolus where prayers were said for murdered Ashling Murphy ahead of her funeral on Tuesday Picture; Gerry Mooney

Pic:Mark Condren
18.1.2022

Pic:Mark Condren 18.1.2022

The funeral of Ashling Murphy passes Lowertown Cemetary en route to her funeral mass at ST Brigids Church in Mountbolus. 
Photo by Steve Humphreys
18th January 2022.

The funeral of Ashling Murphy passes Lowertown Cemetary en route to her funeral mass at ST Brigids Church in Mountbolus. Photo by Steve Humphreys 18th January 2022.

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18/01/2022 Taoiseach Micheal Martin TD arriving for the funeral of Ashling Murphy at the Church ofÊSaint Brigid Mountbolus Co Offaly this morning. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Bishop Deenihan said Ashling’s murder has questioned people’s attitudes towards women, and it has “questioned our values and our morality”.

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Teachers and pupils of Coolanarney National School in Tullamore who held a guard of honour as the funeral cortege of Ashling Murphy passed her former school. Photo: Mark Condren

Teachers and pupils of Coolanarney National School in Tullamore who held a guard of honour as the funeral cortege of Ashling Murphy passed her former school. Photo: Mark Condren

Teachers and pupils of Coolanarney National School in Tullamore who held a guard of honour as the funeral cortege of Ashling Murphy passed her former school. Photo: Mark Condren

“Goodbye for now but not forever darling, as you will live on in all of our hearts and memories.”

Ashling’s uncle, Des Murphy, paid tribute to his “vibrant” niece who was a friend to all who had “the pleasure of knowing her”.

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He said love was freely given in the Murphy home and in turn, Ashling learned to “express freely that love”.

“Her parents Ray and Kathleen watched with pride their youngest grow to the beautiful and confident, vibrant young woman who lived and loved life to the full,” he said.

“She completed her education only in October at the Mary Immaculate College in Limerick. As often happens in rural communities, her tutors and mentors she had as a child became her colleagues at Durrow National School where she began teaching first class. Teaching came naturally to Ashling as she had been teaching both tin whistle and fiddle at Ballyboy Comhaltas.

“Her family home was filled with traditional music every weekend as children learned to love what Ashling loved. With her sister and best friend Amy, they happily put together many grúpa ceoil and traditional bands to compete at county, provisional and at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.

“When asked she readily gave up her time to play her fiddle at St Brigid’s Church where she was baptised and received her holy communion.

“Her other passion was camogie. Her involvement at junior and senior level was at the core of who she was, a team player and faithful to her teammates at her beloved Kilcormac Killoughey club.”

Des described Ashling’s love of fashion and how she was the baby of the family but a “role model” to her younger cousins.

“So much has been written about Ashling but I want to say who she really was. God, she loved fashion. When another purchase arrived at the family home she would say to Cathal and Amy ‘I love clothes, but my wardrobe won’t close’. She loved nature and she loved animals. But she hated having to pull tyres up onto the sileage pit. It was just not what a princess did,” he said.

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin arriving for the funeral of Ashling Murphy at the Church of Saint Brigid, Mountbolus, Co Offaly this morning. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Taoiseach Micheál Martin arriving for the funeral of Ashling Murphy at the Church of Saint Brigid, Mountbolus, Co Offaly this morning. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Taoiseach Micheál Martin arriving for the funeral of Ashling Murphy at the Church of Saint Brigid, Mountbolus, Co Offaly this morning. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

“Her smile would light up any room as she would come bounding in with a plop into a recliner seat, have a cup of tea ready and catch up on all the ‘Sca’.”

“Ashling at 23 years was within her very large family, the baby to her older cousins but yet a role model to her younger cousins. She loved socialising and she never confined herself to any particular norm but was a friend to all who had the pleasure of knowing her.”

He ended his speech by saying that the entire Murphy family will “cherish” Ashling’s memory and keep her “legacy alive”.

“Her partner of five years, Ryan, was the love of her life together and they had a clear vision of their future.

"Ryan’s family was like her second home. She was everything you could hope for in a young woman and she will never be out of our hearts. We will cherish her memory and keep alive her legacy and achievements in her short life.”

Earlier at the funeral mass, mourners were told Ashling’s death was a  “depraved act of violence” which deprived a “talented young woman of her life”.

From early morning mourners started to arrive at St Brigid’s Church for the funeral.

They stood on the roadside of the quiet village on Mountbolus, united in grief and disbelief.

A guard of honour was provided by pupils from Coolanarney National School in Blueball, where Ashling was a pupil, with children lining the roadside as her remains were driven from her family home to the church.

The boys and girls from first class in Durrow National School where Ashling taught them formed a guard of honour for their teacher and carried identical laminated photographs of her with the message ‘fly high in the sky’. They also held red roses as they lined side by side across the road.

Members of Kilcormac Killoughey GAA club, Tullamore Sacred Heart post primary school, and a group from Mary Immaculate college in Limerick, where Ashling graduated from last October, were also outside the church.

Garda outriders led the hearse down the narrow country road to the church as a silence descended on the scene.

Most of the mourners stayed outside the church listening to the funeral on loudspeakers. The local community centre beside the church also relayed the mass to a screen inside.

Ashling's family were brought to the front of the church where President Higgins offered his personal condolences, followed by Sabina Higgins who hugged each member of the family tightly.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin then paid his respects to the family.

During the funeral mass symbols representing Ashling’s life were brought to Fr Michael Meade at the altar.

These included a musical instrument, a photograph of Ashling, a camogie stick and a Kilcormac Killoughey GAA jersey, and a family photograph.

A school book and a crucifix were presented by Ashling’s godparents, Seán Leonard and Regina Murphy.

The gifts represented Ashling’s love of family, friends, music, sport, education and her faith. 

Bishop Tom Deenihan offered his sympathy and support to Ashling’s family and friends at the mass. 

He described the days since Ashling’s murder last Wednesday as a “nightmare”.

“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,” he said.

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Teachers and pupils of Coolanarney national school in Tullamore who held a guard of honour as the funeral cortege of Ashling Murphy passed her former school in Offaly. Photo: Mark Condren

Teachers and pupils of Coolanarney national school in Tullamore who held a guard of honour as the funeral cortege of Ashling Murphy passed her former school in Offaly. Photo: Mark Condren

Teachers and pupils of Coolanarney national school in Tullamore who held a guard of honour as the funeral cortege of Ashling Murphy passed her former school in Offaly. Photo: Mark Condren

“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”.

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The funeral cortege of Ashling Murphy. Photo: Mark Condren

The funeral cortege of Ashling Murphy. Photo: Mark Condren

The funeral cortege of Ashling Murphy. Photo: Mark Condren

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Minister of State Pippa Hackett and Justice Minister Helen McEntee (right) at the funeral of Ashling Murphy outside the Church of Saint Brigid, Mountbolus, Co Offaly this morning. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Minister of State Pippa Hackett and Justice Minister Helen McEntee (right) at the funeral of Ashling Murphy outside the Church of Saint Brigid, Mountbolus, Co Offaly this morning. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Minister of State Pippa Hackett and Justice Minister Helen McEntee (right) at the funeral of Ashling Murphy outside the Church of Saint Brigid, Mountbolus, Co Offaly this morning. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

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 that community is needed to overcome “evils” such as this and community will be needed here in the weeks ahead.

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The coffin of Ashling Murphy passes Lowertown Cemetery en route to her funeral mass at St Brigid's Church in Mountbolus. Photo: Steve Humphreys

The coffin of Ashling Murphy passes Lowertown Cemetery en route to her funeral mass at St Brigid's Church in Mountbolus. Photo: Steve Humphreys

The coffin of Ashling Murphy passes Lowertown Cemetery en route to her funeral mass at St Brigid's Church in Mountbolus. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Bishop Deenihan said 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 paid tribute to Ashling’s family in his liturgy who he said have been robbed of their “most precious gift”.

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The hearse passes Lowertown Cemetery en route to Ashling Murphy's funeral mass at St Brigid's Church in Mountbolus. Photo: Steve Humphreys

The hearse passes Lowertown Cemetery en route to Ashling Murphy's funeral mass at St Brigid's Church in Mountbolus. Photo: Steve Humphreys

The hearse passes Lowertown Cemetery en route to Ashling Murphy's funeral mass at St Brigid's Church in Mountbolus. Photo: Steve Humphreys

“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,” he said.

“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.”

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Mourners gather outside the church before the funeral for Ashling Murphy

Mourners gather outside the church before the funeral for Ashling Murphy

Mourners gather outside the church before the funeral for Ashling Murphy

“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 is being laid to rest after the funeral, with mourners asked to bring their musical instruments to play at the cemetery. 


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