Ashling Murphy: Vigils held for ‘angel’ teacher murdered while out on her run

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The murder of a young teacher has “united the nation in solidarity and revulsion”, the Irish premier said today.

Police are continuing to hunt the killer of 23-year-old Ashling Murphy, who was found dead on Wednesday after going for a run on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore, County Offaly.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said: “It’s very poignant and a very sad moment in our nation’s affairs when a young talented musician had her life violently taken a few days ago, and our hearts and our minds go out to the Murphy family, to her community, to her family and friends, and to particularly the young pupils who no doubt would have been looking forward to Ashling’s presence in the classroom, teaching music or sport as well as the broader curriculum.

“I’ve always been of the view that a national schoolteacher, from the beginning of the State, has been the bedrock upon which our society was built.

Members of the Garda walk along the Grand Canal in Tullamore, County Offaly
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PA)

“And, in many ways, Ashling Murphy represented and personified the very best of that tradition of national teaching.

“I think it has united the nation in solidarity and revulsion at what has happened.”

His comments came as Ireland’s deputy premier Leo Varadkar said society has to face up to an “epidemic of violence against women”.

He added: “No stone will be left unturned in terms of bringing this investigation to a completion and to bring the person responsible for this to justice.”

The death of Ms Murphy has sparked fresh debate about the safety of women in Ireland, with many asking how such an attack could happen in broad daylight.

A woman lays flowers near the Grand Canal
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PA)

Mr Varadkar continued: “I know people in Tullamore must be very worried at the moment because the killer is still at large and I want to assure people that all of the resources of the gardai are going into making sure that this person is found.”

The murder has triggered widespread outpourings of grief and anger, with vigils taking place in towns and cities across Ireland.

Today police renewed their appeal for witnesses and asked anyone with information about a bicycle – a Falcon Storm mountain bike with straight handlebars and distinctive yellow/green front forks – to come forward.

Officers released a 40-year-old man they had been questioning, saying he is “no longer a suspect”.

The man’s solicitor told the PA news agency that he has had his “life ruined”.

Ashling died after being attacked while she was jogging
(
PA)

Donal Farrelly, who represented the man during his two days of questioning, condemned those who had tried to identify him on social media.

In a newspaper interview, Ashling’s father Raymond said: “She was a great worker, with great drive. A marvellous musician.

“She crammed so much into her short life.”

Those who knew her described her as a gifted musician who was loved by her pupils.

Several hundred people attended a vigil in her memory in Galway on Thursday, many of them with flowers and candles.

The route along the Grand Canal is often busy and is a popular spot for walkers and joggers.

Floral tributes were left outside the gates of Durrow National School, where Ms Murphy taught.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the school said it was “utterly devastated by the passing of our dear colleague and friend”.

“Ashling was a very professional and talented young teacher. We are deeply saddened by her tragic loss. Our thoughts are also with her beloved family at this sad time.”

Principal James Hogan said Ashling was a “bright light who put a smile on anyone’s face”.

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