Thousands of people gathered in Tullamore City Park on Friday night for a somber vigil of music, poetry and prayer in memory of schoolteacher Ashling Murphy, 23, who was brutally murdered on Wednesday after- last noon.
The outpouring of grief dramatically demonstrated how the whole community was affected by Ashling’s death in a violent attack on the banks of the Grand Canal.
The crowds were such that the vigil, scheduled for 4 p.m., did not begin until 4.20 p.m. The proceedings were relayed to the vast crowd, dispersed in the park in accordance with Covid restrictions, by a large screen.
Fittingly, the music dominated with Ashling’s friends playing a host of his traditional favorites, including “Tabhair dom do lámh” and a special composition in Ashling’s memory by Attracta Brady titled “Don Chroí Naofa”.
Clergy from all of Tullamore’s Christian churches were also on hand to lead the huge crowd in prayer for Ashling’s family and friends and for the entire community.
Father Joe Gallagher, parish priest of Tullamore, after calling for a minute’s silence, said people stood together to share their feelings and support Ashling’s family.
He said communities across the country were united with women who fear and know the trauma of violence.
“We remember his heartbroken family, his colleagues in work, music, sports, friendship and his young first class students who loved their teacher.
“This is a time of mourning beyond words. We need to be together. We need to support each other in this dark time.
“We are united, united with groups across our country, and even beyond, united with women who fear and know the trauma of violence. United in grief, anger, shock.
“On this dark evening, we want to hold a light in our hands, to stand in solidarity with each other to share our tears and our deep sorrow. It’s time to pray, to reflect, to listen, to be together.”
Specially composed poems for the wake were recited by Sinead Cullen and Alan Murphy who said he understood what Ashling’s family was going through due to his own experience of the death of his young son Jordan in a road accident. road.
Master of Ceremonies, Ronan Berry said the turnout “was here as a community to mourn and come together to try to make sense of what happened in our city and our country.”
“We hope this event brings you all some peace and comfort,” he said.
Prayers of the faithful, the Our Father, the prayer of Saint Francis for peace and a psalm from the Bible were also recited by the representatives of the churches before the formalities concluded by a musical procession.
Many in the crowd held lit candles which were brought onto the stage at the end of the proceedings while other candles were placed in different locations around the park.
Many stayed after the vigil ended to reflect on the events of the past two days that have forever changed Irish society.