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Family and boyfriend visit scene of Ashling Murphy's murder for the first time

On Thursday, they had attended a vigil there but had to stand on the opposite canal bank

People pay their respects at the entrance leading to the scene of Ashling Murphy's murder on the Grand Canal in Tullamore. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Conor Feehan

The family and boyfriend of Ashling Murphy have visited the scene where she was murdered last Wednesday.

Accompanied by gardaí, Ashling’s parents Kathleen and Ray, brother Cathal, sister Amy and boyfriend Ryan, were brought to the Grand Canal Way in Tullamore late yesterday afternoon before being walked to the spot where the 23-year-old teacher was attacked in broad daylight.

There they spent a few minutes together before coming back up the pathway and being driven away again.

It was the first time they had been able to stand at the scene where their daughter and sister’s life was taken.

On Thursday, they had attended a vigil there but had to stand on the opposite canal bank.

Ashling Murphy on her graduation day with (from left) mother Kathleen, brother Cathal, father Raymond and sister Amy

Meanwhile, the parish priest at the church where Ashling’s funeral will take place tomorrow has said everyone has been challenged by the tragic events of her death.

Speaking in his homily during Sunday mass yesterday morning at St Brigid’s Church in the small village of Mountbolus, Co Offaly, Fr Michael Meade said we are all challenged by our own attitudes, and challenged in the way we practise what we call “respect” to one another.

Speaking after delivering the gospel of the Wedding at Cana, where Jesus performed the miracle of turning water into wine, Fr Meade said we are all invited to that great wedding feast of life, and how we live that life depends very much on ourselves.

“In modern times, we have perhaps side-lined faith and religion and belief to tragic events. The real challenge is not just to practise goodness when tragedy comes.

"The real test is to practise goodness when tragedy does not strike,” he said.

“To practise goodness every day we live. To practise goodness in what we say and do.

“We are challenged to make changes. We are all invited to become proper participants at that wedding feast.

"We are called to be bringers of love and justice and peace, to especially be bringers of Christ’s peace to all of us who do say ‘yes’ to that great invitation, to that wedding feast of life and living and love,” he concluded in the short homily.

In the prayers for the faithful, Fr Meade prayed for all of those who are affected and challenged by “the tragedy that has come to us”.

“We pray that through our love, and through our support and through our gatherings, we may give a little comfort and support to all who have a heavy cross to carry,” he said.

Details of Ashling’s funeral were released yesterday morning. It will take place at St Brigid’s Church, Mountbolus, at 11am tomorrow, with burial  afterwards in nearby Lowertown Cemetery.

Ashling’s remains were brought back to the family home in the early hours of yesterday morning and will repose there until her funeral tomorrow.

A large number of people gathered at the Murphy home yesterday evening to pay their respects to Ashling and to her family.

There were so many who wanted to say goodbye to the popular and talented teacher that a car parking area was organised on land next to the family home, and people formed a line to the front-door.

Throughout yesterday, gardaí also conducted checkpoints on the road network, including on the road from Tullamore to Blueball, where they asked motorists if they had travelled that route last Wednesday, the day of the murder.

The scene of the murder on the canal bank at Cappincur remained sealed off by gardaí yesterday, and members of the Garda Water Unit remained on site.

The collection of floral tributes and messages to Ashling continued to grow, and fresh candles were lit by more locals coming to pay their respects.

People huddled in small groups on the laneway at the garda cordon and on the old, stone-arched Digby Bridge that crosses the Grand Canal, many weeping and being comforted by others.

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