Written by Amy Beecham

The funeral for murdered teacher Ashling Murphy yesterday following her death on 12 January.

Yesterday thousands of people gathered as Ashling Murphy, the 23-year-old teacher killed while jogging in Tullamore, Ireland last week, was laid to rest.

Murphy’s sister, Amy, paid tribute to her on social media ahead of the funeral, calling her “the light of our lives” in a Facebook post and requesting privacy at her funeral.

“Ashling was the light of our lives and the heart of our family. Sadly, we will lay her to rest tomorrow, Tuesday the 18th of January,” she wrote.

“Our family kindly asks that any musicians attending please bring their instrument and play music at lower town cemetery after mass should you wish.”

On the same afternoon, the Gardaí (Irish police) confirmed in a statement that a 30-year-old male suspect had been arrested and was being detained at Tullamore Garda Station.

Ahead of the funeral mass, held in St Brigid’s Church in Mount Bolus, County Offaly, more than 20 seven-year-old children from the primary school class Murphy taught lined up to form a guard of honour as the funeral processionentered the church to the sound of traditional music.

The children each held a single red rose photos of Murphy’s graduation bearing the words “fly high in the sky” and “our shining light”.

Children taught by murdered teacher Ashling Murphy pay tribute to her

In an emotional tribute, Murphy’s boyfriend, Ryan Casey, described her as “the greatest love of my life”.

“It’s simply not possible to explain what Ashling meant to myself or her family or friends in these few brief words. All I’d like to say in this moment and 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 of her family and friends so much,” he said, speaking publicly for the first time since her death.

“She was always there, always willing to help anybody anywhere at any time and always put herself last. She had so many hobbies and talents which all combined to make her the incredible, loving and beautiful person we all were so lucky to know and loved to spend as much time with as possible.

“Ashling was so much more to me than a girlfriend, she was my soulmate, she is my soulmate, she will always be my soulmate. She is the greatest love of my life. I will cherish the last five years we spent together my entire life. I hope that someday, God willing, we can be reunited once more and continue the great plans we had made for each other,” he said.

A vigil held for Ashling Murphy in Tullamore

Murphy’s cousin Rachel O’Shea also read a prayer during the service asking “that the many vigils that took place in memory of Ashling, marking the beginning of an end to violence against women”.

Her death sparked an outpouring of grief, with vigils being held over the weekend across Ireland and the UK. In the wake of the murders of Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa, Bobbi McLeod and Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, it has also lead to calls for increased action to tackle violence against women.

Victim Support is an independent charity that provides practical and emotional support to victims of all crimes, including sexual assault and harassment. For help and information you can contact the charity’s free 24/7 Support line number on 0808 16 89 111 or seek support via the website: victimsupport.org.uk.

With the support of more than 60 experts and public figures, Stylist is calling on the government to launch a long-term public awareness campaign about male violence against women – aimed directly at men. Find out more about our call for #AFearlessFuture

Main image: Rip.ie

Other images: Getty

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