‘A depraved act of violence which deprived a kind, talented, loved and admired young woman of her life’ – Ashling Murphy funeral
The funeral mass for murdered school teacher Ashling Murphy is taking place in county Offaly.
The 23-year-old was attacked and killed on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore last Wednesday afternoon.
Her parents Raymond and Kathleen, her sister Amy, brother Cathal and boyfriend Ryan were among the chief mourners at the mass at St Brigid’s Church in Mountbolus.
Symbols of Ms Murphy’s life were brought to the altar, including a fiddle, a Kilcormac/Killoughey camogie jersey, a family picture, a school book and her photo.
Her many friends from school, college, Kilcormac/Killoughey GAA club and Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann also attended.
Parish priest Fr Michael Meade is the chief celebrant at this morning’s mass.
In his homily, Fr Meade said: “The past few days have been 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.”
Fr Meade said Ashling’s brutal killing has “also asked questions of ourselves and of society”. He added: “It has questioned our attitudes and, particularly, our attitudes towards women and it has questioned our values and our morality. 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.”
The priest said “no individual should die like Ashling and no family should suffer like Ashling’s”. And he added: “Respect is an old-fashioned word but it is an important one. Respect was missing last Wednesday but it has re-emerged here all the stronger. Let us respect each other.
“However, today is about Ashling and her family and friends. I also think of Aisling’s pupils and the staff of Durrow National School who have lost a wonderful colleague and teacher. Their grief and their loss must be acknowledged and supported. As we return to our lives after today, their grief and loss remains.
“If there is a chink of light to last week’s darkness it must be the outpouring of support and sympathy that we have all seen. 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. Community is needed to overcome evils such as this and community will be needed here in the weeks ahead.
“Today, we bury Ashling as we must. We bury 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.”
President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister for Justice Helen McEntee also attended the funeral mass.
Ms Murphy’s first class pupils at Durrow National School formed a guard of honour outside the church. The children each held a photograph of her on her graduation day and a single red rose. Teachers and pupils from Coolanarney National School in Blueball, where Ms Murphy went to school, also formed a guard of honour.
Ms Murphy will be laid to rest in Lowertown cemetery nearby.