Crowds gather for funeral of Ashling Murphy in Co Offaly

·3 min read

The funeral of Ashling Murphy, a primary school teacher found dead after going out for a run, is set to take place in Co Offaly.

The body of the 23-year-old, a talented musician, was found on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore, sparking a murder investigation.

Her death has intensified debate around women’s safety, and prompted calls for more to be done to tackle gender-based violence.

Tens of thousands of people have also attended vigils in recent days to honour Ms Murphy.

Ashling Murphy death
Gardai beside the Grand Canal in Tullamore, Co Offaly, where primary school teacher Ashling Murphy was found dead after going for a run on Wednesday afternoon (Niall Carson/PA)

Ms Murphy’s sister paid tribute to her on social media.

Amy Murphy described Ashling as the “light of our lives and the heart of our family”.

She asked musicians attending the funeral to bring their instrument and play music at the town’s lower cemetery after the funeral.

Large crowds have gathered outside St Brigid’s Church, Mountbolus, where Ms Murphy’s funeral mass will be held.

The service will be livestreamed.

Ashling Murphy death
A bunch of red rose placed on the bridge across the Grand Canal in Tullamore, Co Offaly (Niall Carson/PA)

Ms Murphy’s parents Raymond and Kathleen, and siblings Amy and Cathal and her boyfriend Ryan will be among the chief mourners.

It comes as Irish police investigating the death of Ms Murphy renewed an appeal for information, saying “significant progress” has been made in the murder probe.

Police released the description of a man they want to speak to in relation to the teacher’s death.

They have asked anyone who saw a man dressed in black tracksuit top with no hood, black tracksuit bottoms with a large white stripe or white writing on the side and black runners to come forward.

Officers have asked members of the public whether they saw this man walking in the Tullamore area, or if they gave the man a lift last Wednesday evening.

Ashling Murphy tributes
People leave candles and flowers at a makeshift shrine in Ms Murphy’s honour during a vigil at Leinster House, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

The public has also been asked if they noticed the man loitering at any location or “involved in any activity which drew your attention”.

Police said that “significant progress” is being made, but would not confirm any specific details.

It comes as they identified a new person of interest, who is believed to receiving treatment in hospital in the Dublin region, and are waiting to speak to him.

As their investigation continues, gardai believe the development of DNA profiles will form an integral part in the search for Ms Murphy’s killer.

Police appealed to anyone who has not made contact with the investigation team and who has any information to come forward.

Gardai said in a statement: “We are now asking for any member of the public who was on the Grand Canal Way on the morning or afternoon of the January 12 between Digby’s bridge and Ballycommon to contact the investigation team.

Ashling Murphy death
People leave candles and flowers at a make-shift shrine during a vigil at Leinster House, Dublin, for the murdered Ashling Murphy who died after being attacked while she was jogging along the Grand Canal in Tullamore, County Offaly, on Wednesday (Brian Lawless/PA)

“Whether you think you saw anything or not, please contact gardai in Tullamore.

“We continue to appeal for any information on a Falcon Storm mountain bike with straight handlebars and distinctive yellow/green front forks prior to 4pm on Wednesday and in the previous days and weeks.

“We are now asking for people in Tullamore to think about last Wednesday after 4pm and not to confine their thoughts to the Falcon Storm mountain bike.”

Gardai have also said they are concerned about people sharing information on social media, particularly private messaging apps.

Officers have appealed for people to stop sharing these messages.

Members of the public have continued to bring floral tributes and messages to the canal in recent days.

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