There was deep sadness in the silence of the large crowd that gathered outside Leinster House on Friday, who were coming together to remember Ashling Murphy.
By 4 p.m. the street was filling up, as women and men, young and old, broke from their daily routines to gather outside the deli. The crowd grew from hundreds to several thousand at both ends of Kildare Street.
Groups of friends came together; Likewise fathers and daughters, classmates in school uniforms, mothers pushing babies into buggies. Many had candles, while others carried bouquets.
At the start of the vigil, fiddlers swept over the silent crowd, as some of Ms. Murphy’s friends played traditional Irish music the 23-year-old teacher was known to love.
The vigil was one of dozens held across the country in the wake of the murder of Ms Murphy, who was attacked for a run along a canal in Offaly, Tullamore, on Wednesday afternoon.
Grace Corrigan, who grew up playing traditional music with Ms Murphy, described her as “the nicest, kindest, most caring person” who was “so beautiful inside and out”.
“You’ll have a look at that” [music] session, and she’ll give you a big wink, and an even bigger smile on her face,” Ms Corrigan told the crowd in Dublin.
“This should not have happened to him. Ashling, we absolutely love you, and we will never forget you,” she said.
Orla O’Connor, director of Ireland’s National Council for Women, said Ms Murphy was a young woman with a life ahead of her. Ms O’Connor said she was a teacher, a daughter, a sister and a friend of many. “We are furious that another woman’s life has been taken,” she said.
Feminist campaigner Ailbe Smith said the murder of the young woman should be a “turning point” for Irish society and its attitude towards women.
“What can you do other than cry at the loss of this young woman, over the loss of any woman . . . because of cruelty, because of wickedness,” she said.
As she spoke, some in the crowd quietly wiped away their 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 we have for ourselves, our daughters, our sisters, our mothers, can happen to any of us at any time, no one should live with that fear,” he said.
Among the crowd at the vigil, Rachel Cunningham (28) of Dublin said gender-based violence was not a women’s issue, but an “imposed issue on women”.
“We don’t feel at liberty to be able to walk home by ourselves, to be able to go out in the dark, to be able to go out for something as simple as a run,” she said.
Drogheda’s Gabriel Cooney, 67, along with his wife and daughter participated in the surveillance and described Murphy’s murder as a “shocking”.
“I think it’s important that men show that it’s not really just a woman’s issue, it’s really a man’s issue, because it’s about attitudes in society,” he said.
Anna Heverin, 31, said women had an “air of sadness” since Ms Murphy’s death earlier this week.
“We all have stories, we all know people who have been followed, or who haven’t felt safe . . . this is something we all feel very deeply as women,” he said.
“We won’t take any more, something needs to be done, something needs to change, because it shouldn’t have happened . . . Every single woman, the conversation we’re having is this,” she said.
On Friday evening, a continuous crowd of women, children, men and families gathered at the entrance of People’s Park in the city of Waterford, where a candlelight vigil was also held. The park is one of the darkest places in the city, a place many people would avoid passing after a certain hour.
An attendee, Michelle Haberlin, said: “We’ve avoided the night for so long, it’s time to claim it back as our own. We can’t be afraid anymore. Tonight we’ll look at Ashling’s family and friends and Ireland Let’s stand in silent solidarity with all the women who are living in fear of the dark. I am a musician, a mother, a woman, and I say, no fear now.”
Grandmother Teresa Walsh was one of the many women who participated. “I’m in my 70s and I’m here for my grandchildren because I don’t want them to be scared, or terrified of the dark.”
Tears welled up in her eyes as she recalled: “In my day, it was our fault, that’s what we were told. At home it was our fault, in court it was our fault and it was a heavy weight to carry. Ashling was supposed to be the future, she was leading our young minds in school, it’s so devastating and upsetting. That has to change, it can’t be the way now.”
Thousands gathered to light a candle in the city of Limerick, where Ashling studied to become a teacher. Local musicians played slow traditional Irish music as candles lit Arthur’s Quay Park.
Natalie O’Callaghan, who participated, said: “A lot of women are afraid to hang out, go to work, everything.”
Meanwhile, a vigilante for Ashling Murphy in Belfast was described as a “watershed moment” in highlighting violence against women.
Stormont’s Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill made the remarks when she joined a crowd of several hundred in front of Belfast City Hall. At the event, a small picture of Ms. Murphy was placed on the ground with a banner that read: “Her name was Ashling.” Dozens left bunches of flowers and lit candles.
The musicians who knew and played with Ashling Murphy performed a poem after a minute’s silence highlighting the issue of violence against women.
Ms O’Neill said the killing was followed by “an entire week of mourning for Ashling Murphy and everyone who loved her”.
He said the demonstrations across Ireland show that the demand for violence against women needs to stop now.
She said: “We’re here because we’re saying, ‘That’s it.’
“This needs to stop – violence against women and girls needs to stop now.
“Male violence against women and girls needs to stop now.
“I find that today in every town, village and county on this island, people are gathering in great numbers to remember Ashling Murphy, showing that women have had enough.
“We deserve to feel safe, we deserve to be safe. We deserve to go for a run.
“We are entitled to go to work and feel safe, we are entitled to go to the shops and feel safe.
“I think this is an important moment in our society today.”
Memorial events took place in several other places in Northern Ireland, including Derry and Newry. Additional reporting: PA