Ashling Murphy remembered: ‘She was a shining light, her smile lit up a room’

Schoolteacher was also an accomplished musician and energetic sportwoman

Ashling Murphy, who was killed on Wednesday afternoon along the banks of the Grand Canal at Cappincur, Co Offaly. Photograph: Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann/PA Wire

Ashling Murphy, who was killed on Wednesday afternoon along the banks of the Grand Canal at Cappincur, Co Offaly. Photograph: Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann/PA Wire

 

Everyone talks about Ashling Murphy’s smile and her vivacity. Every account tells of a remarkable young woman – an accomplished musician, energetic sportswoman, loving sister and daughter, an inspiring teacher.

She was a young woman who relished challenges and had already achieved many of her dreams: a career that she loved, along with musical and sporting awards.

Every challenge, every ambition had been achieved with the love and support of a close-knit family: her father Ray, mother Kathleen, sister Amy and brother Cathal.

While she was energetic, she was also known for her calm demeanour. Her pupils loved her for the patient way she would show them how to complete an assignment and never “give out” to them.

Floral tributes at Scoil Naomh Colmcille, Durrow, Co Offaly, where Ashling Murphy was a teacher. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Floral tributes at Scoil Naomh Colmcille, Durrow, Co Offaly, where Ashling Murphy was a teacher. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

There was no end to her energy. New projects were tackled with exuberance. Recently, she had bought a set of uilleann pipes, notoriously one of the most difficult instruments to learn.

In her secondary school days in the Sacred Heart in Tullamore, she was an active member of the choir, the orchestra, the camogie team, the traditional music group, tours with Comhaltas, in all of which she excelled.

Her social media accounts show a young woman who loved to socialise with her sister and friends, who made friends everywhere she went and endeared herself to colleagues and competitors alike.

‘Happy disposition’

Describing her as “beautiful inside and out”, Attracta Brady, who taught her to play the fiddle from the age of six, said: “ She had such a happy disposition, she was always smiling. I never saw her cross or cranky or contrary.

“She was always ready to help people, she always had a word for everybody around her, she was like a little light walking around. She had everything – it is beyond heartbreaking for everybody who knew her.

“As a solo performer she won prizes at the All-Ireland, she was that good. I reckon she was in the top 5 per cent of fiddle players her age in the country,” Ms Brady told The Irish Times.

Family friend Frank Kelly, also a traditional musician, echoed that sentiment: “She was a shining light, her smile lit up a room, she was an absolute gem of a teacher.”

Pauline McKenna, principal of the Sacred Heart where Ashling was a student from 2011 to 2017, said: “We were always incredibly proud of her and she will be greatly missed by all who knew her.”

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