Ashling Murphy’s life was stolen in a “depraved act of violence” that has shined a light on the scourge of male violence against women, the former Limerick student’s funeral heard.
Ms Murphy (23), who graduated as a music teacher from Mary Immaculate College last October, was murdered by a man while jogging in Tullamore last Wednesday.
Former mentors and college friends from Mary Immaculate College were represented at the funeral service by College President, Professor Eugene Wall; Dean of Education, Professor Emer Ring; EDII Director, Professor Lorraine Mcllrath; MIC Chaplain Fr Michael Wall and Students’ Union President Roisin Burke.
The college also participated in a national minute’s silence held at 11am, at homes, businesses, schools around the country.
A public candle-lit vigil in memory of Ms Murphy will take place on the MIC campus next Monday at 6pm.
Bishop of Meath Tom Deenihan told mourners at Church of Saint Brigid, Mountbolus, Co Offaly that Ms Murphy’s murder had plunged her family, friends, and the entire community, into “a nightmare”.
“A walk on a mild and sunny afternoon in January should be a happy event, promising the brighter and warmer days of spring and summer; that, as we know, was not the case. A depraved act of violence which deprived a kind, talented, loved and admired young woman of her life has since united the country in grief and support,” Bishop Deenihan said.
The killing “has also asked questions of ourselves and of society, it has questioned our attitudes and, particularly, our attitudes towards women and it has questioned our values and our morality,” added Bishop Deenihan.
“Whether those questions will be addressed or passed over remains to be seen but we cannot allow such violence and disregard for both human life and bodily integrity take root in our time and culture; Pope Francis in his homily for New Year’s Day just two weeks ago said that violence against women was an insult to God,” he continued.
“We all know that no individual should die like Ashling and no family should suffer like Ashling’s. Respect is an old-fashioned word but it is an important one — Respect was missing last Wednesday but it has re-emerged here all the stronger; Let us respect each other,” he said.
Bishop Deenihan said Ms Murphy’s pupils and colleagues at Durrow National School had lost “a wonderful colleague and teacher” but, he said a wave of vigils held around the world, in memory of Ms Murphy and which also shone a light on male violence against women, may have opened up “a chink of light to last week’s darkness”.
“Community is needed to overcome evils such as this and community will be needed here in the weeks ahead,” he said.
Bishop Deenihan said Ms Murphy was a talented traditional Irish musician and teacher “who reached out to others, who made a difference, who brought happiness and who was loved”.
Gifts symbolising Ms Murphy’s love of family (framed photograph), music (fiddle), education (book) and sport (hurley and GAA jersey) were laid on the altar next to her coffin.
In his homily, local Parish Priest Father Michael Meade said Ms Murphy’s family and close friends were suffering a deep darkness filled with raw and fierce pain.
Addressing her loved ones, Fr Meade said: “Kathleen and Ray, Cathal, Amy and her boyfriend, Ryan – you have been robbed of your most precious gift – a gift that gave only joy and love, fun and laughter to many beyond your family.”
Fr Meade said the wider debate about women fearing the threat of men which has been heightened “since this horrible act of violence invaded all our lives will, we pray, continue to evolve and bring the change we need so much, to simply give and show respect”.
Reading a prayer of the faithful, Rachel O’Shea, a cousin of Ms Murphy, said: “We pray that the many vigils that took place in memory of Ashling, mark the beginning of an end to violence against women.”
“May the candle light tributes bring an everlasting hope to all those who live in fear,” Ms O’Shea.