TRIBUTES HAVE today poured in for the victim of a murder in Co Offaly yesterday afternoon.
The woman, named locally as 23-year old teacher Ashling Murphy, was running along the banks of the Grand Canal at Cappincur, Tullamore, when she was attacked at around 4pm yesterday.
A man in his 40s is currently being detained in connection with the murder.
Gardaí have said "no stone will be left unturned in bringing the perpetrators of this crime to justice."
Tributes have been pouring in for Ms Murphy, who taught first class pupils in Durrow National School, also known as Scoil Naomh Colmcille, and was well-known in traditional music circles.
Principal of the school James Hogan told Virgin Media News that the community is devastated by the death of Ms Murphy.
"Ashling was a fantastic, beautiful lady," he said. "She joined us in March 2021. We call her a shining light - her face would light up the room when she came into it.
"She was an extraordinary sportsperson, musician, big into traditional music, had choral talent and was an inspiration to so many people - not only in our school community but the wider community.
"Ashling always focused on the present and bringing the kids along to reach their best, and they are so heartbroken like all of us here in the school.
The school now has a critical incident plan in place and supports are being made available to staff and pupils.
"Exceptionally talented young lady"
Comhaltas, a group promoting the preservation of traditional music in Ireland said that Ashling "was an exceptionally talented young lady who made an unforgettable impression on all who had the good fortune to know her."
"Ashling was among the finest exponents of the concertina and fiddle and was also learning the uilleann pipes. She has featured in our Comhaltas Concert Tours and was also a valued member of the Comhaltas National Folk Orchestra of Ireland.
"The suffering of her family at the loss of such a young and beautiful person is beyond understanding. We share their grief with them and we will always remember Ashling as one who enriched our lives with her warm personality; uplifting musicmaking; compassionate, outgoing and generous friendship."
Sacred Heart School Tullamore, where Ashling was a pupil, said on Facebook that she was a "vibrant member of our school community during her six years here and she will be sadly missed."
"Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad and difficult time."
The Irish National Teachers' Organisation also paid their respects to Ms Murphy.
"We offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Ashling Murphy, he colleagues and pupils at Scoil Naomh Colmcille and all who knew her," it said in a statement.
"For such an appalling tragedy to befall a young woman, who only recently began her teaching career, adds to the profound sense of loss and grief."
In a statement, the faculty of Mary Immaculate College, where Ashling was a student, said:
"It is with profound sadness and shock that we learned of the untimely and tragic death of Ashling Murphy, who graduated from MIC as a primary teacher only three months ago.
"Aishling, a talented musician and performer, had just commenced her teaching career in Durrow National School, Co. Offaly, when her young and promising life was cruelly snatched away from her.
"The thoughts and prayers of the entire MIC community go out to her family, friends, colleagues and students."
In the aftermath of Ashling's death, vigils are being organised in her memory.
One such vigil, organised by the National Women's Council of Ireland, will take place outside the Dáil at 4pm tomorrow.
In her home town of Tullamore, a vigil will take place in the Town Park between 4pm and 5pm tomorrow.
More will take place in Limerick at Arthur's Quay Park at 6pm, and in Galway's Eyre Square at 6pm on Friday.
On Saturday, a walk in Ashling's memory will be held at the Atlantic Pond at 9.30am, while a socially distanced sunrise walk will take place on Sandymount Strand in Dublin beginning at 8am.
Violence against women
Several organisations and individuals have made calls for action to be made against violence against women.
Women's Aid, a charity which supports victims of domestic violence in Ireland, has called for a zero tolerance of male violence against women.
It says that 244 women have now been killed violently since it started keeping records in 1996, with 87% of resolved cases being perpetrated by a man known to the victim. 13% of perpetrators were strangers, as is believed by Gardaí to be the case in Ashing's death.
CEO Sarah Benson said the "appalling murder of Ashling Murphy, a young woman in Co. Offaly, yesterday is a shocking example of the dangers posed to women by violent men."
"We offer our sincere condolences to Ashling’s family, friends and community.
"As with the horrific case of Sarah Everard’s murder in the UK last year, we see on social media, an outpouring of women’s lifelong experiences of systemic misogyny and casual sexism and abuse. We are also hearing of the internalised fears many women carry no matter where they are in public places because of this.
"Not all men are violent, and I don’t think anyone is claiming that. However, the majority of violence against women, and indeed men, is perpetrated by men. That’s something as a whole society, including men, we need to tackle."
Ms Benson said men must act as allies in tackling misogyny and inequality, that said there needs to be an investment in resources for education to change attitudes.
She also called for improvements to be made to the criminal justice system needs to be improves to better protect women.
"If we do this, we will ultimately create a more equal and safer society for everyone – men and women alike."
'She was going for a run'
The term 'She was going for a run' has been widely circulated on social media, originating from the Irish Australian Support Association Queensland, who said that it was "a dark day for Ireland.
"What happened to this poor woman in Tullamore, Co Offaly has hit home hard for so many women because we make the calculations she did every day too.
"We take the longer, better lit route. We tell friends it's fine, it's just around the corner, I'll text when I'm back'... but we still made a plan."
It said reactions to Ashling's death aren't women being "dramatic or over-worried about something that probably won't happen."
"Women should feel safe to walk the streets day or night," the post continued. "There are no excuses and it is not our fault. Male violence towards women is the problem."
Several politicians have made similar assertions.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar tweeted to say "there must be zero tolerance for any violence against women."
Justice Minister Helen McEntee described Ashling's death as "every woman and family's worst nightmare."
Offaly County Councillor Ken Smollen said "we must all now wake up to the fact that violence of any kind against innocent women whether in domestic settings or in public places is simply unacceptable and that those responsible should be removed from society and given lengthy and mandatory prison sentences."
Gardaí are appealing for anyone who may have witnessed the attack, or who was present near the area the attack took place between 3pm and 5pm yesterday to contact Tullamore Garda Station.
Gardaí believe the man who is currently being detained in relation to the murder act alone and was unknown to Ashling.
He is being held under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, andhe can be interviewed for up to 24 hours without charge.