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‘This is a time of grief beyond words’ – thousands attend vigils around the country to remember Ashling Murphy

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Una Maya Kennedy from Wexford at a candlelit vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House Photo: Mark Condren

Una Maya Kennedy from Wexford at a candlelit vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House Photo: Mark Condren

A huge crowd of mourners pictured this evening at a vigil for Ashling Murphy at Tullamore Town Park. Photo: Gerry Mooney

A huge crowd of mourners pictured this evening at a vigil for Ashling Murphy at Tullamore Town Park. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Ashling's parents Kathleen and Raymond with her sister Amy at the vigil, which took place at the entrance to Fiona Way on the bank of the Grand Canal, Cappincur, Tullamore. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Ashling's parents Kathleen and Raymond with her sister Amy at the vigil, which took place at the entrance to Fiona Way on the bank of the Grand Canal, Cappincur, Tullamore. Photo: Gerry Mooney

People at the vigil to remember Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House in Dublin this afternoon. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins Photos

People at the vigil to remember Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House in Dublin this afternoon. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins Photos

Flowers left at the vigil to remember Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House this afternoon. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins Photos

Flowers left at the vigil to remember Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House this afternoon. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins Photos

Labour TD Ivana Bacik and Taoiseach Micheál Martin join attenders at the vigil to remember Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House this afternoon. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Labour TD Ivana Bacik and Taoiseach Micheál Martin join attenders at the vigil to remember Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House this afternoon. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Mourners gathered this evening at a vigil for Ashling Murphy at Tullamore Town Park in Co Offaly. Photo: Colin Keegan

Mourners gathered this evening at a vigil for Ashling Murphy at Tullamore Town Park in Co Offaly. Photo: Colin Keegan

Traditional musician friends of Ashling Murphy play at a vigil at Tullamore Town Park, Co Offaly. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Traditional musician friends of Ashling Murphy play at a vigil at Tullamore Town Park, Co Offaly. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Noreen Graney and Jackie Lythgoe at a vigil of over 500 people in The Square in Tralee Co Kerry today in memory of Ashling Murphy. Photo: Domnick Walsh

Noreen Graney and Jackie Lythgoe at a vigil of over 500 people in The Square in Tralee Co Kerry today in memory of Ashling Murphy. Photo: Domnick Walsh

A candlelit vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House. Photo: Mark Condren

A candlelit vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House. Photo: Mark Condren

A candle lit vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House> Pic:Mark Condren 14.1.2022

A candle lit vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House> Pic:Mark Condren 14.1.2022

A candle lit vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House> Pic:Mark Condren 14.1.2022

A candle lit vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House> Pic:Mark Condren 14.1.2022

A candle lit vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House> Pic:Mark Condren 14.1.2022

A candle lit vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House> Pic:Mark Condren 14.1.2022

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Una Maya Kennedy from Wexford at a candlelit vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House Photo: Mark Condren

On joining the crowd in Dublin, what was most striking was the wall of silence.

It was so quiet, the sound of the gulls wheeling overhead and the pulsating signal of the pedestrian lights were louder than anything else around.

Even as the golden light of the sun still shone in the sky, people were quietly lighting candles.

“I brought 50 candles and I didn’t bring a lighter,” one woman reproached herself.

Shortly after 4pm, the moving, stirring sweet sounds of traditional music could be heard in the air.

It was difficult to tell how many were there for the vigil. But it seems at least 500 people. Most were young women but there were many people there of all ages, male as well as female.

In their hands, many carried a bunch of flowers. Blue irises, yellow and pink tulips, white chrysanthemums.

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Signs carried read “Stop violence against women, a global pandemic”, “The real issue is male violence not women’s safety,” and simply: “End violence against women”.

It did not escape anyone’s notice that at 4.10pm, it was still so bright the candles could scarcely be distinguished. 

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A candlelit vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House. Photo: Mark Condren

A candlelit vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House. Photo: Mark Condren

A candlelit vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House. Photo: Mark Condren

At 4.20pm, the lights of Leinster house gates automatically came on. But it was still bright enough to see every detail – heartbreaking as we paused to consider that it was earlier even than this that Ashling had been killed.

Towards 4.30pm we could finally see the candles. But Ashling already lay dead by that point on Wednesday in Tullamore.

We were told how the young school teacher was “an incredibly beautiful person”.

We heard how she was so happy all the time and “if she asked you how you were, she meant it”.

We heard that Ashling’s boyfriend Ryan has been left heartbroken.

Ahead of the vigil, the National Women's Council had called for a dedicated cabinet minister with responsibility for ending gender-based violence and violence against women.

“This is a turning point. We need to end violence against women,” the crowd was told by Ailbhe Smith.

There was loud applause when she said it is now time “for all men of good faith to stand up beside us and say that’s it”.

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A candle lit vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House> Pic:Mark Condren 14.1.2022

A candle lit vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House> Pic:Mark Condren 14.1.2022

A candle lit vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy outside Leinster House> Pic:Mark Condren 14.1.2022

Towards the end, they softly sang A Woman’s Heart dedicated to Ashling and everyone softly joined in the chorus knowing the sorrowful words: “My heart is low, my heart is so low as only a woman’s heart can be,” many quietly weeping.

In Tullamore, local priest Father Joe Gallagher addressed the vigil before calling for a minute's silence.

He told the gathering attended by all the main religious groups from the area: "We remember her heartbroken family, her colleagues in work, in music, in sport, in friendship and her young pupils in first class who loved their teacher.

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A huge crowd of mourners pictured this evening at a vigil for Ashling Murphy at Tullamore Town Park. Photo: Gerry Mooney

A huge crowd of mourners pictured this evening at a vigil for Ashling Murphy at Tullamore Town Park. Photo: Gerry Mooney

A huge crowd of mourners pictured this evening at a vigil for Ashling Murphy at Tullamore Town Park. Photo: Gerry Mooney

"This is a time of grief beyond words. We need to be together. We need to support one another in this dark time.

"We stand together, united with groups all over our country, and indeed beyond, united with women who fear and know the trauma of violence. United in grief, in anger, in shock.

"In this dark evening we want to hold a light in our hands, to stand together in solidarity with one another to share our tears and deep grief. Time to pray, to reflect, to listen, to be together."

Thousands of people also gathered at a candle-lit vigil in Limerick city tonight where  Ashling Murphy had studied to be a music teacher.

Local musicians softly played slow traditional Irish music airs as a sea of candles lit up Arthur’s Quay Park by those who gathered in solidarity with loved ones of the Mary Immaculate College graduate.

Social Democrat councillor, Elisa O’Donovan, who organised the vigil, and who has been a strong voice in calling for change to a culture of misogyny as well as violence against women, fought back tears as she addressed the large attendance at Arthur’s Quay Park at 6pm.

“I would like to thank you all for coming out this evening for us to share in grief together. On Wednesday afternoon, a young woman went for a run and never came home again, and today we pay tribute to the life of Ashling Murphy, a beautiful 23-year old woman, exceptional student, and talented musician,” Cllr O’Donovan said.

“On Wednesday her life was stolen from her, in what can only be described as every woman’s worst nightmare.”

“It is inconceivable to me that woman are not safe in public or private spaces, at nighttime or at 4pm in the afternoon, in a nightclub, or just going for a run. We are not safe anywhere and we are forced to carry this fear with us always.”

A minute’s silence was held after Cllr O’Donovan told those gathered: “While one light has gone out in the world, we shine our lights brightly in memory of Ashling Murphy.”


 


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