Thousands of people commemorated the death of a young primary school teacher at vigils in several towns across Ireland and neighboring Northern Ireland.
In the small Irish town of Tullamore, where the 23-year-old’s body was found midweek, mourners gathered in a park to show their support for the woman’s family and at the same time to take a stand against violence against women. The teacher’s murder has united the country “in solidarity and disgust”, Prime Minister Micheál Martin said at a commemoration in Dublin.
The teacher, a talented musician, was killed on Wednesday afternoon while jogging along a canal – a popular route for cyclists and runners. The police are still looking for the author, they have identified “an interesting person for the case”. An arrested man had previously been released after questioning. Prime Minister Martin promised that every stone would be turned to complete the investigation.
Tears flowed as thousands attended the vigil in Tullamore Town Park as candles were lit and prayers were said. Friends and acquaintances of the young woman, including her first violin teacher Attracta Brady, played traditional Irish music at the commemoration in the town a good 80 kilometers west of Dublin.
“She was the most beautiful girl inside and out,” Brady said. “She was every parent’s dream. She was everything you want in a girl.” The woman’s father, Ray Murphy, played his favorite song, “When You Were Sweet Sixteen,” on the banjo at a another memorial that evening near the crime scene, according to the PA news agency.
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Her school described her as “a shining light, a very professional and talented young teacher, a woman of exceptional athletic, musical and vocal talents”. She had therefore started teaching elementary school in March 2021 and had been a first class teacher.
The woman has also been recalled to Belfast. Young musicians who knew the 23-year-old and had played with her also played here. Hundreds of people, who observed a minute of silence, among other things, gathered outside the town hall of the capital of the British part of Northern Ireland.
Everyone saw the news and felt they had to do something, said one of the organizers, Emma Gallen. “We couldn’t just sit there and admit that a daylight murder happened to someone who was just starting their life.”
The crime has sparked a new debate about the safety of women on the island of Ireland. “There is an epidemic of violence against women. This has been the case for millennia,” Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said. President Michael D. Higgins called on people to reflect on what it takes to eliminate all forms of violence against women and to build a “kinder, more compassionate, and more empathetic society” for all. Other vigils were also planned over the weekend. (dpa)