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Irish police are investigating the theory that teacher Ashling Murphy used her keys in a bid to save her life as she fought off her assailant.
A man in his 30s has now been arrested for questioning in connection with the death of the 23-year-old primary school teacher one week ago today, following his discharge from hospital where he admitted himself with several injuries, some of which are believed to have been self-inflicted.
Gardaí have also seized a taxi they believe was used to transport the suspect to Dublin from County Offaly in the hours after the murder last Wednesday.
The taxi travelled from Dublin to Tullamore to pick up the suspect, gardaí believe. His arrest – the second in this case which has horrified the nation – was confirmed by gardaí shortly after hundreds of mourners attended Ashling’s funeral Mass yesterday.
Her heartbroken boyfriend, Ryan Casey, told mourners at her graveside that Ashling ‘is the greatest love of my life’.
Ashling Murphy was killed last Wednesday. The 23-year-old teacher’s funeral took place today and was attended by large crowds who congregated outside the church in Tullamore. Her family displayed many treasured photos of her, including the one on the right, from during her life
He said: ‘I will cherish the last five years we spent together for my entire life. I hope that some day, God willing, we can be reunited once more and continue the great plans we had made for each other.
‘Goodbye for now, but not for ever, darling. Ashling shall live on in all of our hearts.’
Meanwhile, a specialist team is now forensically examining the taxi believed to have transported the suspect to Dublin.
It is one of two cars that gardaí believe the suspect may have travelled in before he appeared at a Dublin hospital. The other car, which was also seized in Dublin, is also being forensically examined.
The Irish Daily Mail previously reported that gardaí spent two days reviewing CCTV footage at Tullamore train station and determined that the suspect did not travel to Dublin by train, unless he had hidden his appearance behind a Covid mask, baseball cap and other improvised disguises.
Police probing the murder of schoolteacher Ashling Murphy are trying to identify a mystery man who was seen cycling near to where the 23-year-old was killed. According to gardaí, at the time of the attack the suspected killer wore a dark tracksuit with no hood and black tracksuit bottoms with a large, distinctive white stripe (pictured: CCTV still)
Pictured: A map showing where Ms Murphy’s body was found along the Grand Canal way, also known as Fiona’s Way. The route is named in memory of missing woman Fiona Pender, of whom there is a monument to in Tullamore
That led them to believe that someone drove him to Dublin and dropped him at the home of a relative.
The next day, he appeared at a Dublin hospital with several wounds to his body. A source said that the man, who is not a native English speaker, did not give his name when asked by hospital staff but later gave it and explained that he was living in Offaly, which raised an immediate security alert.
Pupils from Ashling Murphy’s class hold a photographs and a red roses during Ashling Murphy’s funeral at St. Brigid’s Church, County Offaly on January 18, 2022
Gardaí had been waiting at the hospital for confirmation that the man could be released for questioning and had set up a security protocol within the hospital grounds. Once the doctors gave the all-clear, he was arrested and taken to Tullamore station for questioning.
The source said that a search for a knife believed to have been used by Ashling’s killer is a major part of the investigation.
They are now examining the contents of a bottle bank that was removed from Daingean Road, less than two miles from the crime scene, in the belief that the killer may have thrown the knife in there after Ms Murphy’s murder.
As friends and family gathered for the funeral Mass in the village of Mountbolus, Co. Offaly, gardaí entered a Dublin hospital shortly after 11am and detained the suspect, who is in his 30s.
The suspect was being treated for a number of injuries over the past six days, some of which are believed to be self-inflicted. According to a Garda spokesperson, the suspect is in custody at Tullamore Garda Station ‘on suspicion of murder’ and can be held for up to 24 hours.
Detectives will continue to interrogate the suspect today until they decide whether or not to charge him.
The man, who is originally from Central Europe, is understood to have been aware that gardaí wished to speak with him once he was deemed sufficiently recovered.
In the wake of the murder, investigating officers contacted hospitals throughout the country asking staff to contact them if they had any suspicions concerning an injured patient.
Boys from Ms Murphy’s class looked despondent as they hung their heads and held images of their murdered teacher
Pupils from Ashling Murphy’s class hold a photographs and a red roses during Ashling Murphy’s funeral at St. Brigid’s Church, County Offaly on January 18, 2022
Gardaí have also made enquiries at every taxi company in Tullamore and surrounding area to determine if any driver brought the suspect to the Co. Offaly town.
They also want to determine if he is the man in the black tracksuit with a distinctive white stripe down the leg that was seen on Main Street, Tullamore in the hours before the murder. That man, who was captured on CCTV footage, appears to be cycling a Falcon Storm mountain bike, very similar in colouring to the one that was found abandoned close to the murder scene.
Yesterday, as flags flew at halfmast and moments of silence were observed nationwide, President Michael D Higgins, his wife Sabina, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Justice Minister Helen McEntee were among those in attendance at Ashling’s funeral. Education Minister Norma Foley and Culture Minister Catherine Martin also attended.
Bishop of Meath, Tom Deenihan, told mourners that ‘a depraved act of violence’ which deprived Ms Murphy of her life has united the country in grief and support.
Mourners walked beside the hearse carrying the coffin of Ashling Murphy as the cortege arrived for her funeral at St. Brigid’s Church
Ashling Murphy, sister and boyfriend embraced each other in mourning as they arrived for her funeral at St Brigid’s Church in Mountbolus near Tullamore, Ireland January 18, 2022
Family members place their hands on the coffin as it is carried out of St Brigid’s Church, Mountbolus, Co Offaly
Mother and sister of the late 23-year-old teacher, Ashling Murphy, who was murdered while out jogging, arrive for her funeral at the St Brigid’s Church in Mountbolus near Tullamore, Ireland January 18, 2022
Ashling Murphy’s father Raymond Murphy and sister Amy Murphy arrive for Ashling’s funeral at St. Brigid’s church
Taoiseach Micheal Martin (L) and Minister for Education Norma Foley were among several government ministers in attendance at St Brigid’s Church, Mountbolus, Co Offaly, for the funeral of Ashling Murphy
Bishop Deenihan said that her death has asked questions of ‘ourselves and of society’, and has questioned attitudes towards women, and ‘our values and morality’.
Ms Murphy came from a highly respected family in the local area that is well known in the music scene, and live outside Tullamore
‘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,’ he added.
‘The past few days have been 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.
‘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 added that one piece of light during last week’s darkness was the outpouring of support and sympathy.
Parish priest Fr Michael Meade told mourners that Ms Murphy’s family has been ‘robbed of your most precious gift’.
‘A gift that gave only joy and love, fun and laughter to many, many beyond yourselves and bounds of your own home,’ Fr Meade added.
Children outside the church held photographs of Ms Murphy and roses. The message next to Ms Murphy’s image read: ‘Fly high in the sky, our shining light.’
Representatives from Ms Murphy’s local Gaelic football club as well as from her old school attended the parish church of St Brigid.
Schoolchildren provided a guard of honour outside the church prior to the funeral. Several children also held fiddles and tin whistles.
Actress Jameela Jamil leads international grief for Ashling as she is laid to rest
by SHARON MCGOWAN for the Irish Daily Mail
Actress and activist Jameela Jamil was among those to call for gender-based violence to be taken more seriously following the killing of Ashling Murphy.
The English actress, 35, who has starred in the TV series The Good Place opposite Ted Danson, wrote: ‘Devastated to hear about what happened to young #ashlingmurphy in Ireland. In broad daylight. In a busy area.’
As Ms Murphy was laid to rest yesterday, national and international political figures paid tribute to the primary school teacher, who was killed while out running at around 4pm last Wednesday.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said his ‘heart is broken’ over the murder and added that there needs to be a ‘very frank’ conversation about gender-based violence in Ireland in the wake of the tragedy.
‘I think the nation’s heart is broken. It’s a sad day and I think the priest [at Ashling’s funeral] put it well – the pain that Ashling’s family, friends and community are dealing with, there’s clearly a lot of love there,’ Mr Donnelly told RTE’s News at One.
The minister added: ‘This is not the day for it but we need to start having a very frank and honest conversation as a country about the spectrum of abuse and violence towards women, and it just has to end.’
Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney paid tribute to the tragic Offaly woman on Twitter as he urged the public to ‘support each other’ following the murder.
‘Such sadness across the country today as people think of and support Ashling’s family and friends through this nightmare,’ he said. ‘Support each other, respect
The tributes to Ashling were too heartbreaking to bear as mourners remembered talented teacher and musician
from JENNY FRIEL for the Irish Daily Mail in Tullamore
As the last strains of the traditional air ‘Inisheer’ faded out and the musicians lowered their instruments, the hearse carrying Ashling Murphy’s coffin started to drive slowly out the gates of the Church of Saint Brigid in the village of Mountbolus, Co. Offaly.
Footsteps were the only sound that could be heard as the hearse passed through the gathered crowd. Standing in a line on one side were a dozen or so pupils from the Sacred Heart School in Tullamore, where Ashling had been a student, and beside them stood men from the local Kilcormac/Killoughey GAA club, wearing silk sashes of yellow and green and each holding a single yellow rose.
On the other side was a bank of traditional musicians, many of them sitting on fold-out chairs, there to play tribute to one of their own.
Touching photos of Ashling from through the years that her family displayed to mourners at her funeral yesterday
As Ashling’s family and her longterm partner, Ryan Casey, walked arm-in-arm behind the hearse, her mother Kathleen nodded in acknowledgement to some of those she recognised. It was not until they were well out the road, the one that leads to Lowertown Cemetery, that the musicians took up their instruments again to play another tune in honour of the 23-year-old woman who was murdered last week while out jogging.
There was still a palpable air of shock in this midlands community that the newly qualified primary school teacher was killed in broad daylight on the towpath of the Grand Canal, a popular outdoor spot, in the nearby town of Tullamore.
Among the large crowd waiting for her funeral to begin at the gates of the church yesterday, there was little conversation. What was there to say that hadn’t already been said?
The pupils from Ashling’s First Class at Durrow National School, in their smart blue and grey school uniforms, formed a short guard of honour, each holding a single red rose and printout of a photo of their teacher with the words, ‘Fly high in the sky, our shining light’.
For the most part, their little faces were solemn if not a little bewildered by the attention. For children so young, they did a remarkable job of being on their best behaviour as they waited for the Murphy family to arrive.
Given that Ashling was a passionate and talented musician, it was inevitable that music would play an important role at her funeral.
Inside the church, members of Ballyboy Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann joined with her teaching colleagues and friends to play several reels and laments before the Mass began shortly after 11am. Outside in the bright mid-morning sunshine, several small children clutching tin whistles and fiddles stood with their parents, some of them possibly youngsters Ashling had taught music to at her family home in the nearby village of Blue Ball.
Pupils from Ashling Murphy’s class held photographs of her and red roses outside St Brigid’s Church, Mountbolus, Co Offaly, ahead of the funeral of the schoolteacher who was murdered in Tullamore, Co Offaly last Wednesday
Passing on her love of trad had always been important to the young woman. Her teaching colleagues from Durrow National School walked in alongside her hearse, led by their principal, James Hogan. They passed a line of young girls from Kilcormac/Killoughey, with whom Ashling played camogie, each wearing their team tops and each holding a single yellow rose.
People had travelled from all over the country to pay their respects – not just the dignitaries, who included President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Micheál Martin – but people like Joe Freeley from Ballyhaunis in Co. Mayo, who was there on behalf on his walking club, the East Mayo Ramblers, and who had brought eight white doves with him to release before the end of Mass.
There was also a strong showing from female politicians: Justice Minister Helen McEntee, Education Minister Norma Foley, Arts Minister Catherine Murphy, and Minister of State and Offaly resident Pippa Hackett all walked in together.
The Mass was celebrated by local parish priest Fr Michael Meade, who directly addressed Ashling’s family and partner Ryan in his homily.
‘You have been robbed of your most precious gift,’ he told them. ‘A gift that gave only joy and love, fun and laughter to many beyond your family.
‘The issues raised in many ways and by many voices since this horrible act of violence invaded all our lives will, we pray, continue to evolve,’ he added.
‘And bring the change we need so much, to simply give and show respect.’ Eight of Ashling’s cousins, all young women, gave the two readings and six prayers of the faithful. Acknowledging the effect of her murder around the country, Rachel O’Shea 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 candlelight tributes bring an everlasting hope to all those who live in fear.’
Mourners of a GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) club also took part in the funeral of the late 23-year-old teacher. A family photograph was laid out alongside a jersey from Kilcormac Killoughey, the GAA club Ashling had played for and a hurl, to recall her time spent playing camogie, during the funeral
In the community hall next door, and at the local GAA ground, two big screens streamed the funeral service for those who could not get into the church.
During Communion, several dozen photographs of Ashling were shown on the screens. Many showed her with her friends, all dressed up for big nights out. Others were of her on holidays or out hiking in local beauty spots.
But the most poignant were those of Ashling with her family, the five of them together, arms around each other, smiling and laughing.
Kathleen and Raymond Murphy’s pure pride and joy in their children was almost too heartbreaking to bear.
Bishop of Meath Tom Deenihan addressed the congregation before the last prayers. He spoke about how the past week has ‘been a nightmare’ and how Ashling’s murder had ‘asked questions of ourselves and of society.
‘It has questioned our attitudes and, particularly, our attitudes towards women,’ he added. ‘And it has questioned our values and our morality. Today we bury Ashling, as we must,’ he said.
‘We bury a woman who lived the short years given to her to the full, who developed her talents, who reached out to others, who made a difference, who brought happiness and who was loved.’
In the graveyard, a short walk outside the village, Ashling’s partner Ryan Casey spoke.
‘She is the greatest love of my life,’ he told them. ‘I will cherish the last five years we spent together. I hope that someday, God willing, we can be reunited and continue the great plans we had made for each other.’
Then, once again, the musicians began to play.