Ashling Murphy’s family comforted each other tonight as they joined thousands attending a candlelit vigil near the scene where she was murdered.
The 23-year-old primary school teacher was killed while she was jogging along a canal in Tullamore, Co Offaly on Wednesday afternoon.
The tragedy has re-sparked ongoing conversations about male violence against women.
Ashling’s parents, Raymond and Kathleen, her brother Cathal and sister Amy wept as they linked arms and traced her last steps along the Grand Canal.
Police have identified a second suspect in the murder case while Ireland mourns her death.
Ireland’s leader, Micheal Martin, said the tragedy had ‘united the nation in solidarity and revulsion’.
Vigils were held across the Republic and Northern Ireland, including in Tullamore, Dublin and Belfast.
In Tullamore, Ashling’s home town, thousands of people made their way to Town Park pledging to send ‘solidarity and support’ to her family.
During the hour-long vigil, people cried, clutched candles, and quietly clapped as prayers were said and music was played.
As the light dimmed on Friday evening, traditional Irish music – played by friends and former teachers of Ms Murphy – formed the centrepiece of the service.
Attracta Brady, who was Ms Murphy’s first fiddle teacher, played alongside other sombre performers.
She described her protege as a ‘fabulous musician’ and ‘beautiful inside and out’.
Ms Brady said: ‘She was a parent’s dream.
‘She was everything you’d want in a daughter. She had integrity, she was honest, she was trustworthy. She was quirky and a little bit cheeky sometimes with the loveliest smile and she’d get away with it because she had this beautiful twinkly smile.
‘She was never in bad humour, she was always smiling and she absolutely loved her fiddle. Her parents only told me yesterday that she never had to be told to practice. She was bright and energetic and everybody loved her.’
Meanwhile the crowd in Belfast included Sinn Fein’s members of the legislative assembly (MLA) Caral Ni Chuilin and Social Democratic and Labour Party’s MLA Matthew O’Tool.
Stormont deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill told the several hundred people gathered outside Belfast City Hall that Ms Murphy’s murder was a ‘watershed moment’ for safety of women and girls.
She said: ‘At the start of this week I launched a strategy. I called for views in terms of developing a strategy to tackle male violence against women.
‘Little did I know on Monday that I’d be standing here only a short number of days later, joining with other women who have gathered here outside Belfast City Hall to show solidarity to the family and all that loved Ashling Murphy.’
Ms O’Neill continued: ‘A horrific murder of another woman in our society at the hands of a male. We are all here because we want to show that support, that love.
‘There has been an outpouring of grief all week for Ashling Murphy and for all that loved her.’
Some of Ms Murphy’s friends, who used to play music with her, performed at the vigil.
A small photograph of Ms Murphy was laid on the ground alongside a banner which read: ‘Her name was Aisling’.
Others put out flowers and lit candles for the young woman, while someone read out a poem about male violence against women.
When the reader was finished, the crowd bowed their heads for a minute’s silence.
One of the vigil’s organisers, Emma Gallen, said: ‘We all saw the news, we all saw about Ashling Murphy, and we all thought we had to do something.
‘We couldn’t just stand by and not acknowledge that a murder happened in daylight of someone who was at the beginning of her life.
‘We wanted to mark the grief that we all feel and to come together to mark how sad we all are, and how angry we all are.’
Ms O’Neill echoed similar thoughts in her speech when she said ‘enough is enough’.
She went on: ‘We are here because we are saying enough is enough.
‘It needs to stop, the violence against women and girls needs to stop now. Male violence against women and girls needs to stop now.
‘I think the sheer fact that right across every town, village and county across this island today people are gathering in large numbers to remember Ashling Murphy shows that women have had enough.
‘We are entitled to feel safe, we are entitled to be safe. We are entitled to go for a run.
‘We are entitled to go to work and feel safe, we are entitled to go to the shops and feel safe.’
Many more gathered for vigils in Mr Murphy’s honour in several other places in Northern Ireland and the Republic, including Londonderry, Newry, Galway and Dublin.
A London vigil will be held for Ms Murphy tomorrow – outside the London Irish Centre at 4pm.
A man in his 40s, now under gardai protection, was arrested over her murder but was released after forensic investigations and analysis of his alibi ruled him out.
Detectives have suggested the murder was a random act of violence carried out by a stranger.
It is understood police have now identified a new chief suspect.
Hospital staff contacted police after a man arrived at the casualty department of a Dublin hospital on Thursday night with serious facial injuries, according to The Irish Times.
Staff believed his injuries appeared to be inflicted by someone defending themselves.
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