THOUSANDS of mourners attended an emotional vigil for Ashling Murphy who was killed by an unknown person while jogging.
They descended on Town Park on the outskirts of Tullamore, Ireland, on Friday evening, pledging to send “solidarity and support” to the Murphy family.
Irish police are still searching for the killer of the 23-year-old, who was found dead on Wednesday after running on the banks of the Grand Canal in the town of Co Offaly.
During the hour-long vigil, people wept, grabbed candles and softly clapped as prayers were said and music was played.
As the light dimmed, traditional Irish music – played by Ashling’s friends and former teachers – formed the centerpiece of the service.
Attracta Brady, who was the young woman’s first violin teacher, performed alongside others as they performed two songs Ashling is said to have done with her trad band.
She described her protege as a “fabulous musician”.
“She was the most beautiful girl inside and out,” Ms Brady said.
“She was a parent’s dream. She was everything you would want in a girl. She had integrity, she was honest, she was trustworthy.
“She was quirky and a bit cheeky at times with the prettiest smile and she got away with it because she had this beautiful sparkly smile.
“She was never in a bad mood, she was always smiling and she loved her violin.
“Her parents only told me yesterday that she should never be told to train. She was bright and energetic and everyone loved her.”
Prayers were said for Ashling’s family, friends and students as well as for all women who have experienced violence.
MINUTE OF SILENCE
A local priest, Father Joe Gallagher, addressed the vigil before calling for a minute’s silence.
He told the rally: “We remember his heartbroken family, his colleagues in work, in music, in sports, in friendship and in his young first class students who loved their teacher.
“This is a time of mourning beyond words. We need to be together. We need to support each other in this dark time.
“We are united, united with groups across our country, and even beyond, united with women who fear and know the trauma of violence. United in grief, anger, shock.
“On this dark evening, we want to hold a light in our hands, to stand in solidarity with each other to share our tears and our deep sorrow. It’s time to pray, to reflect, to listen, to be together.”
The women present at the vigil shared their anger and disappointment.
Roslyn Kavanagh, a resident of Tullamore, said: “I think that shouldn’t happen in society at all. And as a woman I felt, in places, insecure and vulnerable and as a woman, I shouldn’t feel like this.”
Roslyn’s friend, Chloe Galvin, said: “I too am a young woman in my twenties. I have walked this canal line many times by myself, with friends and family. It is something you never think about in the light of day: is someone going to attack me?
“We are taught as young women, in the evenings, you stay with your friends. You never leave them, you text them to make sure they come home safe. Now we’re going to expect us to do this in broad daylight.
“Now we have a work plan that we’re all going to walk to our cars and make sure everyone’s okay, and have a group chat (asking), ‘Are you home okay? ?’
“It shouldn’t be like this. The reason I’m here is because it’s time for women to take a stand and say, ‘No more, it’s over.’
“We should be treated the same as men.”
Ashling’s grieving parents, Kathleen and Ray, along with her sister Amy and brother Cathal, linked arms as they attended a separate candlelight vigil later that evening near where the teacher was killed.
In a tribute to his youngest daughter, Ray played his favorite song, When You Were Sweet Sixteen, on the banjo.
The talented musician, who worked at Durrow National School, was training along a well-known route when she was targeted.
Police believe she died in an unprovoked and random attack.
Last night cops released a man they had questioned about his death and said he was no longer considered a suspect.