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Ashling Murphy funeral: Mourners told young teacher ‘epitomised the beauty of life’

Mourners at the funeral of murdered school teacher Ashling Murphy are told today how she “epitomised the beauty of life”.

The funeral mass for the 23-year-old was held at St Brigid’s Church in Mountbolus, Co Offaly on Tuesday morning.

Alongside her family and friends, the service was attended by the Irish President Michael D Higgins and the Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

Many paying their respects also gathered outside the church while others watched the service online.

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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

Pupils from Coolanarney National School in Blue Ball, where Ashling was a pupil, formed a guard of honour, as her remains were driven from the family home to the church.

Her first class pupils from Durrow National School also stood outside the church,

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Inside there were emotional scenes as the Irish President and his wife Sabina comforted the family.

Several items important from Ashling’s life were then placed at the front of the church.

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Mourners walk beside the hearse as the cortege arrives at St Brigid's Church, Mountbolus, Co Offaly, for the funeral of Ashling Murphy - 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 - 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 - Niall Carson/PA Wire

There has been a widespread sense of grief and anger across Ireland and beyond since the young teacher was attacked and killed while out for a run alongside the Grand Canal in Tullamore, Co Offaly last Wednesday.

Later on Tuesday afternoon, January 18, Gardai said they had arrested a male in his 30s on suspicion of murder.

He is now detained in Tullamore Garda Station, and police said they had no further comment at this time.

With the huge amount of public attention on the funeral, an order of service was released in advance.

Parish Priest Fr Michael Meade was the chief celebrant and a final prayer was delivered by Bishop of Meath Tom Deenihan.

Several of her cousins also gave readings during the service.

This included Ciara Leonard, who said her cousin “epitomised the beauty of life” and had shared her gifts, passion, gifts and talents with many others.

She also prayed for her friends, colleagues and students in Ballyboy Comhaltas, Kilcormac, Killoughey Camogie club and Scoil Naomh Colmcille, Durrow.

Aoife Leonard prayed for staff at Tullamore hospital and for Garda officers who had been a special comfort to the family in recent days.

Rachel O’Shea prayed that the many vigils that took place in memory of Ashling marked the beginning of an end to violence against women. 

“May the candle light tributes bring an everlasting hope to all those who live in fear,” she said.

Delivering his homily, Fr Meade said: “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. Kathleen and Ray, Cathal, Amy and her boyfriend, Ryan - you have been robbed of your most precious gift - a gift that gave only joy and love, fun and laughter to many beyond your family.”

He said it was his hope the issues raised “since this horrible act of violence invaded all our lives” would inspire the change needed in society “to simply give and show respect”. 

Speaking of her early years, he said Ashling had led “a life of love, a life of hope, a life of trust”.

This was shown through her love of music, sport and her vocation as a teacher.

“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,” he said.

Bishop Deenihan told the family that the days since Ashling’s murder had 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,” he said. 

"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 the crime had also asked questions of society and especially over attitudes towards women.

“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,” he said.

He quoted Pope Francis’ homily for New Year’s Day just two weeks ago said that violence against women was an insult to God.

“We all know that no individual should die like Ashling and no family should suffer like Ashling’s,” the Bishop said.

"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.”

He also called for the grief and loss felt by her colleagues and pupils to be acknowledged.

“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,” he said.

"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.”


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