Hundreds attend Ashling Murphy vigil as murder investigation continues

Ashling Murphy was a primary school teacher.

A vigil has been held following the killing of much-loved teacher Ashling Murphy.

The 23-year-old's death in Co Offaly has triggered widespread outpourings of grief and anger in the Republic and Northern Ireland.

Ms Murphy, a primary school teacher in Tullamore, was killed on Wednesday afternoon (January 12) while running along the banks of the Grand Canal.

A man who was being questioned has been released after gardai said he is no longer a suspect in the murder investigation.

Gardaí are renewing their appeal for information on a Falcon Storm mountain bike with straight handlebars and distinctive yellow/ green front forks.

Image of Falcon Storm mountain bike released by police

The police force has promised to leave “no stone unturned” in bringing Ms Murphy’s killer to justice.

Several hundred people attended a vigil in memory of Ms Murphy in Eyre Square in Galway on Thursday night. Many in the crowd brought flowers and candles to the vigil.

Several speakers addressed the crowd and a moment of silence was held. Musicians also played Irish traditional music in memory of Ms Murphy.

Roisin Nic Lochlainn, the president of NUI Galway Students’ Union and one of the organisers of the vigil, told PA news agency they wanted to send a “message of solidarity”.

More vigils are planned in Dublin and Belfast, with the impact of the attack felt on both sides of the Irish border.

Senior Irish politicians promised justice would be delivered for Ms Murphy’s family and condemned violence against women.

Irish premier Micheal Martin said the teacher “represented the best of modern Ireland”.

“The entire country is devastated and shocked by the violent and barbaric killing of Ashling Murphy, a young woman in the prime of her life,” he said.

Flowers at a Garda checkpoint after the primary school teacher’s death Credit: Dominic McGrath/PA

“There is no place in our society for violence, particularly violence against women. It cannot and will not be tolerated. The safety and security of women is at the core of our society’s values.”

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar expressed his condolences to the family of Ms Murphy.

He tweeted on Thursday afternoon: “There must be zero tolerance for any violence against women.” Mr Varadkar called Ms Murphy’s death “truly devastating and senseless”.

Superintendent Eamonn Curley told reporters on Thursday morning around 50 officers are working on the investigation as he appealed for witnesses to come forward.

He said gardai do not believe Ms Murphy knew her killer and said he is likely a “male who acted alone”.

Police appeal for information about mountain bike

The scene remained closed off at the Grand Canal as the probe continued on Thursday evening, when gardai confirmed a post-mortem examination has been completed.

The route along the Grand Canal is often busy and is a popular spot for walkers and joggers.

Floral tributes were left outside the school gates of Durrow National School, where Ms Murphy taught, as the local community reeled in the wake of the attack.

Floral tributes left at the scene in Tullamore Credit: PA

Principal of Durrow National School, James Hogan, said the school community is “utterly devastated”.

He told RTE radio Ms Murphy was a “bright light who put a smile on anyone’s face”.

He added: “Aisling was a shining light to the kids and a very professional and talented young teacher.

“She was an inspiration to so many, not just in our school but across the wider community of schools.”

Dr Labhras O Murchu, from traditional music organisation Comhaltas, said Ms Murphy was “among the finest exponents of the concertina and fiddle and was also learning the uilleann pipes”, adding: “We know that she and her family are at the heart of her local community.

“She was a much-loved school teacher and had so much to offer in so many ways.”

Declan Harvey, Fianna Fail councillor for the area, said: “I am devastated. I couldn’t sleep last night thinking of it all because it is a place I go all the time. She went there jogging, she does it regularly. I am lost for words.”

Mr Harvey said it is a route that he and his family often walk.

“Tullamore is probably the safest place in the world, and after yesterday people will be nervous to go down to the canal,” he added.

“It’s a lovely area and helps clear your head. It’s a very popular route that everyone takes. People walk their dogs, people with their kids and prams.”