WITH an almost eerie silence on occasions, the sense of upset and anger was palpable as candles flickered in the January breeze this afternoon when a couple of hundred people gathered at Killarney Racecourse for a poignant vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy, the 23-year-old teacher killed while out for a run in her native Tullamore, Co Offaly.
The emotion-charged event was organised in support of her devastated family and all those who knew and loved the hugely popular, newly graduated primary school teacher, a wonderful musician and sportswoman, who had already accomplished so much in her very young life.
Mayor of Killarney, Cllr Marie Moloney, was in attendance to pay her own respects as the women of the town and its surrounds gathered in a real show of strength and solidarity.
Also in attendance was Vera O’Leary of the Kerry Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre who has called for education on bodily autonomy and respect to be added to the school curriculum from a much younger age.
“There has been a huge outpouring of grief and support across Ireland for Ashling and her family. Women must feel safe in their homes and their communities,” the organisers of the Killarney event said.
Similar vigils were held in Killorglin, Castleisland, Tralee, Dingle and in Cromane while Rathmore GAA Club organised a drive-through gesture of support with members of the public lighting candles in Ashling’s memory.
In Tullamore, there were devastating scenes as Ashling’s grieving parents, Ray and Kathleen, her brother Cathal, sister Amy and her boyfriend Ryan retraced her final steps along the canal where another candlelight vigil was held.
Photographs: Marie Carroll O’Sullivan