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shining light Ashling Murphy's heartbroken boyfriend says she was the greatest love of his life

"Ashling was so much more to me than a girlfriend. She was my soul mate; she is my soulmate and she will always be my soul mate"

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Ashling Murphy with boyfriend Ryan

Ashling Murphy with boyfriend Ryan

Ashling Murphy with boyfriend Ryan

The boyfriend of murdered school teacher Ashling Murphy broke down in tears as he told the hundreds gathered at her graveside that she was the greatest love of his life. 

Ryan Casey, who had earlier attended Ashling’s funeral mass alongside her family at St Brigid's Church in Mountbolus, recounted how the 23-year-old, who was attacked and killed on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore last Wednesday afternoon, was their “shining light”.

“What Ashling meant to me, and her family, and friends, needs a few brief words,” Ryan said at the burial in Lowertown Cemetery.

“What I’d like to say in this moment in time is that Ashling was in fact our shining light. She loved her mum Kathleen, her father Ray, her big sister Amy and her big brother Cathal and all her family and friends so much.

“She was always there, always willing to help anybody, anywhere at any time and always put herself last.

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Ashling Murphy

Ashling Murphy

Ashling Murphy

“She had so many qualities and talents which all combined to make her an incredibly loving and beautiful person that we were so lucky to know and loved to spend as much time with as possible.”

As he broke down sobbing, broken-hearted Ryan said Ashling was “so much more to me than a girlfriend. She was my soul mate; she is my soul mate and she will always be my soul mate.

“She was the greatest love of my life,” he added. “I will cherish the last five years we spent together and I hope that someday, God willing, we can be reunited once more and continue the great plans we had made for each other.”

He ended: “Goodbye for now but not forever darling. Ashling, you will live in all our hearts and memories.”

As he was comforted in the arms of supporters, a round of applause broke out around the graveyard.

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Ashling Murphy’s sister Amy Murphy and boyfriend Ryan Casey walk behind the hearse outside St Brigid’s Church, Mountbolus (Niall Carson/PA)

Ashling Murphy’s sister Amy Murphy and boyfriend Ryan Casey walk behind the hearse outside St Brigid’s Church, Mountbolus (Niall Carson/PA)

Ashling Murphy’s sister Amy Murphy and boyfriend Ryan Casey walk behind the hearse outside St Brigid’s Church, Mountbolus (Niall Carson/PA)

A friend of the family then addressed those gathered around him to say the family had asked that a few words be said about Ashling.

“She was born to a tight-knit family where love was freely given and in turn Ashling learned to express freely that love,” he said.

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“Her parents, Ray and Kathleen, watched with pride as their youngest grew into a beautiful, confident and vibrant young woman who lived and loved life to the full.”

He said teaching had “come naturally to Ashling” and her family home was filled with traditional music every weekend.

Her “big sister and best friend Amy” had put together many shows and when asked, Ashling gave readily of her time, to play her fiddle at St Brigid’s Church, where she was baptised and was given Holy Communion.

“Her other passion was camogie”, and her involvement at junior and senior level was “at the core of who she was”.

“She was a team player and faithful to her teammates of her Kilcormac/Killoughey.

“So much has been written about Ashling but I want to say who she really was,” he added.

“She loved fashion and when another purchase she had arranged arrived at the family home, she would say to Cathal and Amy, ‘I love clothes but my wardrobe won’t close’.

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Funeral cortege of Ashling Murphy arriving at the Church of Saint Brigid, Mountbolus, Co Offaly this morning for her funeral mass.

Funeral cortege of Ashling Murphy arriving at the Church of Saint Brigid, Mountbolus, Co Offaly this morning for her funeral mass.

Funeral cortege of Ashling Murphy arriving at the Church of Saint Brigid, Mountbolus, Co Offaly this morning for her funeral mass.

“She loved nature and she loved animals but she hated to pull tires up onto the silage. It was just not what a princess did.

“Her smile would light up any room and she would come bounding in and pop onto her recliner seat have a cup of tea ready and catch up on all the (gossip).

Ashling, at 23 years, was, within her very large family, the baby to her older cousins, but yet a role model to her younger cousins.

“She loved socialising and she never confined herself to any particular norm but was a friend to all who had the pleasure of knowing her.

“Her partner of five years Ryan was the love of her life and they had a clear vision of their future. Ryan’s family was like her second home,” he added.

“She was everything you could hope for in a young woman and she will never be out of our hearts,” he added. “We will cherish her memory and keep alive her legacy and achievements in her short life.”

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