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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 

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 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.

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

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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

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

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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”.

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Teachers and Pupil's of Coolanarney national school in Tullamore who held a guard of honour as the funeral cortege 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 cortege 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.

(left to right) Ashling Murphy's brother Cathal, mother Kathleen, father Raymond, sister Amym and boyfriend Ryan Casey outside St Brigid's Church, Mountbolus, Co Offaly, after the funeral of Ashling Murphy who was murdered in Tullamore, Co Offaly last Wedensday. 23-year-old Ashling, a primary school teacher and a talented musician, was found dead after going for a run on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore. Picture date: Tuesday January 18, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story IRISH Death. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

(left to right) Ashling Murphy's brother Cathal, mother Kathleen, father Raymond, sister Amym and boyfriend Ryan Casey outside St Brigid's Church, Mountbolus, Co Offaly, after the funeral of Ashling Murphy who was murdered in Tullamore, Co Offaly last Wedensday. 23-year-old Ashling, a primary school teacher and a talented musician, was found dead after going for a run on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore. Picture date: Tuesday January 18, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story IRISH Death. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

PA

Taoiseach Micheal Martin arrives at St Brigid's Church, Mountbolus, Co Offaly, for the funeral of Ashling Murphy, who was murdered in Tullamore, Co Offaly last Wedensday. 23-year-old Ashling, a primary school teacher and a talented musician, was found dead after going for a run on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore. Picture date: Tuesday January 18, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story IRISH Death. Photo credit should read: Damien Eagers/PA Wire

Taoiseach Micheal Martin arrives at St Brigid's Church, Mountbolus, Co Offaly, for the funeral of Ashling Murphy, who was murdered in Tullamore, Co Offaly last Wedensday. 23-year-old Ashling, a primary school teacher and a talented musician, was found dead after going for a run on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore. Picture date: Tuesday January 18, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story IRISH Death. Photo credit should read: Damien Eagers/PA Wire

PA

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

Mourners walk beside the hearse as the cortege arrives at St Brigid's Church, Mountbolus, Co Offaly, for the funeral of Ashling Murphy, who was murdered in Tullamore, Co Offaly last Wedensday. 23-year-old Ashling, a primary school teacher and a talented musician, was found dead after going for a run on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore.. Picture date: Tuesday January 18, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story IRISH Death. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Mourners walk beside the hearse as the cortege arrives at St Brigid's Church, Mountbolus, Co Offaly, for the funeral of Ashling Murphy, who was murdered in Tullamore, Co Offaly last Wedensday. 23-year-old Ashling, a primary school teacher and a talented musician, was found dead after going for a run on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore.. Picture date: Tuesday January 18, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story IRISH Death. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

PA

Mourners walk beside the hearse as the cortege arrives at St Brigid's Church, Mountbolus, Co Offaly, for the funeral of Ashling Murphy, who was murdered in Tullamore, Co Offaly last Wedensday. 23-year-old Ashling, a primary school teacher and a talented musician, was found dead after going for a run on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore. Picture date: Tuesday January 18, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story IRISH Death. Photo credit should read: Damien Eagers/PA Wire

Mourners walk beside the hearse as the cortege arrives at St Brigid's Church, Mountbolus, Co Offaly, for the funeral of Ashling Murphy, who was murdered in Tullamore, Co Offaly last Wedensday. 23-year-old Ashling, a primary school teacher and a talented musician, was found dead after going for a run on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore. Picture date: Tuesday January 18, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story IRISH Death. Photo credit should read: Damien Eagers/PA Wire

PA

TULLAMORE, IRELAND - JANUARY 18: A large crowd of people fill the street as pupils from Ashling Murphy's class hold photographs of her and red roses ahead of 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: A large crowd of people fill the street as pupils from Ashling Murphy's class hold photographs of her and red roses ahead of 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)

Getty Images

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.

The hearse leaves St Brigid's Church, Mountbolus, Co Offaly, after the funeral of Ashling Murphy who was murdered in Tullamore, Co Offaly last Wedensday. 23-year-old Ashling, a primary school teacher and a talented musician, was found dead after going for a run on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore. Picture date: Tuesday January 18, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story IRISH Death. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The hearse leaves St Brigid's Church, Mountbolus, Co Offaly, after the funeral of Ashling Murphy who was murdered in Tullamore, Co Offaly last Wedensday. 23-year-old Ashling, a primary school teacher and a talented musician, was found dead after going for a run on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore. Picture date: Tuesday January 18, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story IRISH Death. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

PA

Family members place their hands on the coffin as it is carried out of St Brigid's Church, Mountbolus, Co Offaly, after the funeral of Ashling Murphy who was murdered in Tullamore, Co Offaly last Wedensday. 23-year-old Ashling, a primary school teacher and a talented musician, was found dead after going for a run on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore. Picture date: Tuesday January 18, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story IRISH Death. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Family members place their hands on the coffin as it is carried out of St Brigid's Church, Mountbolus, Co Offaly, after the funeral of Ashling Murphy who was murdered in Tullamore, Co Offaly last Wedensday. 23-year-old Ashling, a primary school teacher and a talented musician, was found dead after going for a run on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore. Picture date: Tuesday January 18, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story IRISH Death. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

PA

TULLAMORE, IRELAND - JANUARY 18: A musician becomes emotional as she plays with other musicians during Ashling Murphy's 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: A musician becomes emotional as she plays with other musicians during Ashling Murphy's 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)

Getty Images

TULLAMORE, IRELAND - JANUARY 18: Pupils from Ashling Murphy's class hold photographs of her and red roses ahead of 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: Pupils from Ashling Murphy's class hold photographs of her and red roses ahead of 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)

Getty Images

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

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.

Ashling’s first class pupils from Durrow National School also formed a guard of honour outside the funeral mass at St Brigid’s Church, Mountbolus in Co Offaly. 

Before the service, President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina sympathised with the Murphy family, Sabina giving each of them a hug. Taoiseach Micheál Martin also sympathised with the Murphys and spoke to Ashling’s father, Ray. 

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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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

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

“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”.

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.

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”.

“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.”

“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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