Crowds have begun to gather for the funeral of Ashling Murphy, the young teacher who was murdered, in Co Offaly.
Ms Murphy’s funeral is taking place this morning from 11am in St Brigid’s Church, Mountbolus, close to her home in Cully, Blueball, Co Offaly. She has been reposing at the family home since Sunday.
The 23-year-old woman was killed while out jogging along the Grand Canal in Tullamore last Wednesday.
Ms Murphy’s sister paid tribute ahead of the funeral. In a post on Facebook, Amy Murphy said that Ashling was the “light of our lives and the heart of our family”.
Ashling was a talented fiddle player, and a musical tribute to her is planned for the funeral. “Our family kindly asks that any musicians attending please bring their instrument and play music at lower town cemetery after Mass should you wish,” Amy wrote.
She added that her family would greatly appreciate privacy from media outlets at this time.
Among the mourners arriving at the funeral were those who had played music with the young teacher. Neil Corcoran said: “I played music with her all my life. We played music from we were about seven or eight, all through the years, through the fleadhs.
“I would have been always competing with her.I would have always recognised her, she was lovely.”
Ashling's funeral is being aired on television on RTÉ 1 and being live streamed online, which can be accessed here. Audio from inside the church will also play outside for the anticipated crowds.
Gardaí will be on duty to manage traffic and parking. Traffic from Tullamore will be directed into a car park in Killoughey GAA grounds.
Cars coming from Birr and Idle Corner can park in a green field site at Murrays, and vehicles arriving via Ballyboy will be accommodated in a green field site at Dalys.
Gardaí also said that people attending the funeral should remain vigilant in relation to Covid-19, and public health advice says that people who are in crowded outdoor areas or who are unable to socially distance should wear face coverings.
A moment of silence is taking place across schools and colleges at 11am also, to pay respect to Ashling.
The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland, Fórsa and the Teachers’ Union of Ireland have urged all schools and colleges to join in the tribute.
“We are encouraging schools to fall silent to remember a beloved primary school teacher, taken far too soon, and show our solidarity with her friends, family, colleagues and pupils as Ashling is laid to rest,” the unions said in a joint statement.
Laois-Offaly TD Barry Cowen has said it is up to society to ensure that Ashling Murphy’s legacy is a catalyst for an improved society with regard to how women are treated and men are educated about respect.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Mr Cowen said that women should be able to walk the canal lines of the country without fear, as men can do.
The midlands community remained stunned, shocked and desperately sad, he said.
Ashling’s colleagues in education, her friends in the camogie club and neighbours would come together to ensure her funeral is a poignant one, but one that represents everything associated with her brilliant full life. That will help the family, he hoped.
Mr Cowen called for the family’s space to be respected to allow them begin the healing process.
The young teacher’s pupils had her for far too short a time and she had left a lasting impression, he said.
“It’s up to us to ensure her legacy lasts far longer and is a catalyst for an improved society in respect to the way in which we treat women and the way in which men are educated in how to respect and appreciate and allow women to walk the canal lines throughout the country without fear, like men.”
On Morning Ireland former teacher Frank Brennan and his daughter Mairead, who is also a teacher, both musicians, paid tribute to Ashling Murphy and her family.
Ms Brennan, who spent some time in Durrow National School, said she took comfort from the fact that Ashling’s short career would have been a very happy one in such a supportive and welcoming environment.
Mr Brennan said that Ashling had been “an exceptionally talented” fiddle player and that when she and her sister, Amy, played together they were “magnificent”. – Additional reporting PA