‘A depraved act of violence’
Ashling Murphy’s funeral mass took place on Tuesday where crowds gathered across Offaly and online to mourn the primary school teacher.
Symbols like musical instruments, family photo and a hurl were brought up to the altar as mourners heard about her life.
Photos with family and friends were also displayed online during the funeral mass showing a happy and beautiful young woman full of smiles and laughter.
Her funeral mass took place in the Church of Saint Brigid, Mount Bolus in Offaly, in the Diocese of Meath where the President of Ireland Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina attended, as well as An Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister for Education Norma Foley.
Fr Michael Meade, Parish Priest of Kilcormac and Killoughey, Mount Bolus, was chief celebrant at the mass.
During the mass, he 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 also 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.”
Fr Meade said: “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.
“We complete this journey with heavy hearts, we go as far as we can to a graveside and just as Jesus made a promise to his followers, his words are now Ashling’s words for Kathleen and Ray, for Amy, for Cathal, for her boyfriend Ryan and for us, ‘know that I am with you always, yes to the end of time'. May her gentle soul now rest happily in God’s arms and may Christ now enfold her in his eternal love,” he added.
Also speaking during her funeral mass was Bishop of Meath Tom Deenihan who 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.”
The bishop said: “The crime has also asked questions of ourselves and of society. 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.”
He said no individual should die like Ashling and no family should suffer like Ashling’s. Respect is an old-fashioned word, he said, 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 added.
He continued: “However, today is about Ashling and her family and friends. I also think of Ashling’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.”
He said if there is a chink of light to last week’s darkness it must be the outpouring of support and sympathy 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.”
“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.”
As of going to print on Wednesday, gardaí investigating Ashling's fatal assault that occurred at 4pm on 12 January along the canal bank at Cappincur, Tullamore continued to question a male in his 30s who was arrested on Tuesday 18 January on suspicion of murder.
The man was detained at Tullamore Garda Station under the provisions of Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984.
An Garda Síochána have arrested a second male (30s) in connection with this investigation. This male, as of going to print, was detained at a garda station in the eastern region under the provisions of Section 30 Offences Against the State Act 1939 as amended. He was being questioned in relation to potential withholding of information contrary to The Offences Against the State (Amendment) Act 1998.