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Touching 'Ashling was a chatterbox, and fearless footballer' - School’s tribute to Ashling Murphy

Primary school's touching tribute to 'warm and vibrant' Ashling Murphy


Ashling Murphy as a child

Ashling Murphy as a child

Ashling Murphy as a child

Ashling Murphy was remembered for being "the chatterbox" in her own primary school days, as well as a fearless footballer.

Her endearing smile and the time she played Snow White in the school play were also fondly recalled by her alma mater yesterday.

Coolanarney National School in Blueball was attended by the murdered teacher when she was a child.

Located just yards from her Co Offaly home, yesterday it paid a warm tribute to the much-loved teacher as a beautiful, vibrant, talented, warm and friendly person who past teachers praised as "hard-working and diligent".

Lorraine Mahon, principal at the school, also praised Ashling's parents for moulding her into the young woman she became.

Outside the school, a small shrine to Ashling has been erected, and the pupils will today form a guard of honour at the roadside as her remains are driven from her family home to her funeral mass.


Tributes to Ashling Murphy at a shrine in the Town Park in Tullamore

Tributes to Ashling Murphy at a shrine in the Town Park in Tullamore

Tributes to Ashling Murphy at a shrine in the Town Park in Tullamore


Photographs show Ashling smiling and bright from her first days at junior infants right up to her last year there.

Ms Mahon said Ashling was a beautiful, vibrant, talented, warm and friendly person, and was well known, much loved, and will be sadly missed.

Ashling attended Coolanarney school from 2003 to 2011 and was taught by Ms Mahon, Leonie Gath and Frances Lynch.

Speaking to the Herald, Ms Mahon said: "We have so many fond memories of her time in school, of Ashling 'the chatterbox' in class, of Ashling as Snow White in our school play; of Ashling fearless and determined on the school football team and at indoor hurling blitzes; of Ashling with the quick wit and endearing smile and the enduring sense of her absolute joy in life.

"Ashling was a hard-working, diligent student who always gave her best.

"She was ambitious, musical, creative, dramatic and talented in so many ways.

"Her energy, vitality, good humour, kindness and empathy for others was always evident and she had very positive relationships with both her peers and teachers."

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In a letter to parents, the school said: "The evening of Wednesday, January 12, 2022, was one that our whole school community will, unfortunately, never forget as news emerged of the tragic death of our dear past-pupil, friend and neighbour, Ashling Murphy.

"We are all profoundly saddened by her senseless death, the loss of the huge potential of her life so tragically cut short, and every thought and prayer of ours is with her heartbroken family: Ray, Kathleen, Cathal and Amy, and with the extended Leonard and Murphy families."

The statement from the school said many current pupils were privileged to be tutored by Ashling in music, or to have become familiar with her kindness as they were cared for after school by Ashling's mother Kathleen.

"These children spoke of her gentle encouragement, her good humour and her sense of fun," it said.

"Children spoke of her encouraging them to play camogie, to play the tin whistle and other instruments, to 'get off that device and let's go out to play'.

"She was generous with her time and helped the children in 'Kathleen's' to do their homework when she was home.

"She played with them and they remember her as a fun, happy person with lots of jokes and time to talk.

"Ashling was also a babysitter to some in her younger years, and those children remember her as being so kind to them.

"She was fun and sometimes let them stay up a little longer than they were meant to.

"All of these children are heartbroken at this time at the sudden and incomprehensible loss of their dear friend and tutor but will remember her fondly through these enduring links and memories.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Ashling's family at this time of indescribable sorrow.

"Ray and Kathleen have been supportive members of our school community for many years.

"Ray, like Ashling, has always been generous with his time in supporting school events, including providing a sound system for our school shows for many years.

"Kathleen is well known as a childminder for many children in the school and her kindness and generosity to the children is renowned. Those less fortunate to attend have often been heard to say, 'Why can't I go to Kathleen's too?'. 

"Ashling's brother and sister, Cathal and Amy, also attended Coolanarney NS and their loss is surely beyond words."

Ms Mahon said Ashling's parents were tireless in their support of their three children, ferrying them to sports and music lessons while teaching them to be caring.

"They inspired their children to excel and to be ambitious.

"They are wonderful role models for their children, and raised Ashling to become the inspirational young lady we now grieve."

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