Ashling Murphy: Community is needed to overcome such evil

- BBC News

Ashling Murphy: Community is needed to overcome such evil

The children, neat and sombre in their navy school uniforms, strained to catch a glimpse as the flashing blue lights of the police motorcycles heralded the arrival of the funeral cortege.

Each clutched a photo of Ashling Murphy and a single red rose, their innocence contrasted with the tragic backdrop.

They were there to pay tribute to a beloved young primary school teacher and talented musician, attacked and killed as she exercised along a nearby canal in the small, rural Irish community less than a week earlier.

Her death has sparked anger, shock and revulsion across these islands and further afield, prompting a national discussion on how to end violence against women.

Dave Plunkett walks every day on the canal path.

"Everyone feels a real connection to her. It just feels like nothing is going to be the same again," he said.

And for the many, many people who knew and loved Ms Murphy in this County Offaly community, that is the case.

For them, this is raw and visceral. In the five days since the killing, they have struggled to deal with the violence that has been brought to their quiet community.

Hours after Ms Murphys funeral, Irish police said they had arrested a man in his 30s on suspicion of her murder.

The night before the funeral, local resident Mary Givan brought fresh batteries for the fairy lights on a makeshift memorial to Ms Murphy along the Grand Canal, and clears spent tea lights.

Her daughter was in the same year as Ashling at school.

"This is a mothers fear now," she said. "If you let your daughters out, they cant go out on their own. We cant either.

"To keep the light burning for her, thats all we can do."

The area is not accustomed to public expressions of heartbreak and sorrow, although there were elements of both outside St Brigids Church in Mount Bolus on Tuesday.

Fr Michael Meade, chief celebrant at the funeral Mass, talked of how Ashlings family had been "robbed" of a precious gift - a term that succinctly sums up the callous nature of the 23-year-olds death.

The rural, local nature of the area was encapsulated by the farmer who opened his fields to mourners in cars and buses, as gardaĆ­ (Irish police) marshalled them in.

His fields have held the overflow from funerals before, but never for one like this.

Ahead of the funeral, Fr Meade spoke of the fact that "something powerful" would come out of this, reflecting on the outpouring of grief and support from around the world.

Bishop Tom Deenihan, Bishop of Meath, told mourners that the "chink of light" is that wave of sympathy, manifested by the vigils in Ashlings honour and the support to her family over recent days.

"Community is needed to overcome evils such as this", he said.

And overcome they will.

Read it all at BBC News