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Denise Worland speaking at the candlelit vigil in Shannon to remember Ashling Murphy. Photograph by Eugene McCafferty

Online vigil for Ashling from Shannon this Thursday

AN online vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy will take place from Shannon on this Thursday evening.

While it is being held in a church, it is not a religious event, said Ann McMahon, who has been involved in its organisation.

“It’s a vigil event, that will be non-religious in memory of Ashling Murphy. It’ll be largely an online event, but it’ll take place in Ss John & Paul Church at 8pm on Thursday.

“There will be some invited guests, but with Covid restrictions and erring on the side of caution. It’ll be on the Shannon parish website and also the Shannon parish Facebook page, it’ll be livestreamed there.”

There will be speakers and traditional music on the night, and Ann feels last week’s tragedy may provoke change in society.

“This very sad and tragic event has evoked very strong feelings in a lot of people. It is perhaps a pinch point in our reflections as a community about violence perpetrated against women.

“She has been spoken about so eloquently by people who knew her and it has captured the collective psyche of the entire country.

“People are talking about what society has tolerated in terms of the language that’s used in relation to women, how men talk about women. Women have been the victims of violence since time immemorial and it’s time to say stop. This event will allow the community in Shannon to acknowledge Ashling’s life, but also to reflect as a community.”

Meanwhile there was a large turnout last Friday evening to a vigil for the murdered schoolteacher in Shannon.

In the region of 300 people were at the Town Park on a cold but clear and dry night and many people left candles at the bandstand in honour of the late school teacher.

Speaking at the event Councillor Donna McGettigan said she had been touched by some of the men who had given flowers in memory of Ashling, and said that men’s support is required to end gender based violence.

“Not all men are predators but we need men to be on our side to show that all women do feel like we are prey.”

She said that too often women feel they need to take precautions to ensure their safety.

“We go around with keys between our fingers, how we go on the phone, we look up a journey and think are we going to be safe; but these are issues that aren’t our problem to solve. It’s not up to us to solve them, it’s up to everybody.”

Councillor McGettigan pointed out that Ashling Murphy was murdered at a place called Fiona’s Way, dedicated to Fiona Pender who disappeared 25 years ago.

“The only thing we should be protecting ourselves against when we walk out our door is the weather. We need to have safe streets, we need to be able to walk out the door and come home safe. We need to be able to feel safe when we’re at home, when our children are out that they’re going to come home safe.”

The Shannon vigil was organised by Michelle Morrison and Siobhán Mulderrig, and speaking about it subsequently, Siobhán said, “We were absolutely overwhelmed to be honest with you.

“Tullamore is very close to my heart, I spent all of my youth up there and I spend a lot of time up there to this day. I just felt we had to do something to mark it here in Shannon, especially with Geraldine Kissane, all those years ago, God rest her.”

“I got onto Denise Worland from Adapt Domestic Abuse Services and she was very happy to help.”

Twenty-three-year-old Geraldine Kissane of Cluain Airne was murdered by an ex boyfriend in 2001.

The Shannon vigil was organised quite quickly and there was a huge turnout given the short notice.

“On Friday morning I just felt we can’t let this go, every other town is doing something so it would be nice for our town to mark it.

Sinead Quinn, who sang a beautiful rendition of ‘Voice of an Angel’ during the candlelit vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy

“I said I’d try Denise and see was Denise available, if she wasn’t available I wasn’t going to go ahead, but she was more than happy to come on board with me.

“Word spread very fast once we said that we were going to go ahead and do this. People brought flowers, we had men bringing bunches of flowers, they brought candles.”

Sinead Quinn sang at the vigil also, something that added greatly to the atmosphere.

The flowers and candles placed in the park as part of the vigil were to be left there until after Ashling’s funeral on Wednesday.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.