There was a deep sense of sadness in the silence of the large crowd that gathered outside Leinster House on Friday, coming together for a vigil to remember Ashling Murphy.
By 4pm the street had begun to fill up, as women and men, young and old, broke from their daily routines to gather outside the Dáil. The crowd grew from hundreds to several thousand, stretching down both ends of Kildare Street.
Groups of friends came together; so did fathers and daughters, classmates in school uniforms, mothers pushing infants in buggies. Many held candles, while others carried bouquets of flowers.
The sound of fiddles drifted over the silent crowd at the start of the vigil, as some of Ms Murphy’s friends played traditional Irish music, something the 23-year-old teacher was known to love.
The vigil was one of dozens organised across the country in the wake of the killing of Ms Murphy, who was attacked while out for a run along a canal in Tullamore, Co Offaly, on Wednesday afternoon.
Grace Corrigan, who grew up playing trad music with Ms Murphy, described her as “the nicest, kindest, most caring person you could meet”, who was “so beautiful inside and out”.
“You’d look over at her at a [music] session, and she’d give you a big wink, and have an even bigger smile on her face,” Ms Corrigan told the crowd in Dublin.
“This shouldn’t have happened to her. Ashling, we absolutely love you, and we will never forget you,” she said.
Orla O’Connor, National Women’s Council of Ireland director, said Ms Murphy had been a young woman with her life ahead of her. She was a teacher, a daughter, a sister, and a friend to many, Ms O’Connor said. “We’re angry that another woman’s life has been taken,” she said.
Ailbhe Smyth, feminist campaigner, said the young woman’s killing must be a “turning point” for Irish society, and its attitudes to women.
“What can you do but cry, at the loss of this young woman, at the loss of any woman . . . because of cruelty, because of wickedness,” she said.
As she spoke, some in the crowd quietly wiped away tears.
“The lives of women and girls matter, and men’s violence against women and girls must stop . . . the killing of women must end,” she said.
“The fear that we have for ourselves, for our daughters, our sisters, our mothers, the fear that this could happen to any one of us at any time, nobody should have to live with that fear,” she said.
‘Forced on women’
Among the crowd at the vigil, Rachel Cunningham (28), from Dublin, said gender-based violence was not a women’s issue, but “an issue forced on women”.
“We don’t feel the freedom to be able to go out for something as simple as a run, to be able to be out in the dark, to be able to walk home by ourselves,” she said.
Gabriel Cooney (67), from Drogheda, attended the vigil with his wife and daughter, and described Ms Murphy’s killing as a “shocking” event.
“I think it’s important that men show it’s actually not just a women’s issue, it’s actually more a man’s issue, because it’s about attitudes in society,” he said.
Anna Heverin (31) said there had been “an air of grief” among women since the death of Ms Murphy earlier this week.
“We all have stories, we all know people who have been followed, or haven’t felt safe . . . it’s something we all feel very deeply as women,” she said.
“We won’t take any more, something needs to be done, something needs to change, because this shouldn’t have happened . . . Every single woman, the conversation we’re having is this,” she said.