‘Ashling had so much more to give to the world’
In the month when she would have celebrated her 24th birthday, Ashling Murphy's parents and sister have spoken on television about how she had "so much more to give" to the world.
The poignant interview by Ashling's parents, Raymond and Kathleen, and her sister, Amy, was broadcast on TG4 during its coverage of the Fleadh in Mullingar on Saturday last.
The heartbroken family spoke about the "huge void" left by Ashling's untimely death, but also fondly recalled her great love of traditional music and her involvement with the Ballyboy branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.
Ashling learned the tin whistle at six years of age, her mother Kathleen explained, and she then learned to play the fiddle.
Amy said the family home in Blueball was regularly "filled with music" as Ashling taught music lessons to many students.
Her father said one of the things he missed was sitting down after dinner on a Saturday and listening to Ashling and her students playing music in the next room.
"I would sit there and listen to them for half an hour while drinking a cup of tea after dinner, and it was just lovely to hear that. That's gone now," he said.
Ballyboy Comhaltas was established in 2000, Amy explained, and Ashling was around the group even before she started to play herself.
"We used to spend so much time in Dan and Molly's Pub when we were younger. We would have done all our music lessons there. It's a huge part of our family, I call it our home away from home," said Amy.
She said that the Comhaltas branch "really nurtured us as children" and helped to make Ashling a good musician, friend, and music teacher.
"We were very, very lucky to be part of something so special. It's like a little community in itself," she said.
Amy also spoke about the importance of the support provided by the branch following Ashling's death in January.
"When Ashling passed away, the support we had from our branch was just phenomenal. Sometimes you didn't even have to ask, it's like they could read our minds. I don't know if there's words to thank them - there really isn't," she said.
Kathleen spoke of how her daugher always had "a big smile" for everyone.
"From the youngest to the oldest, she always had a smile for them. She was very lovable, and caring. She loved everyone. She had so much to give to the world," she said.
Raymond added: "Life will go on, we'll have to stay going.
"We'll celebrate all the good times we had, and we had a lot of good times, but she had so much more to give to everyone.
"What she done in her short 23 years… if she had another 23 years what would she have achieved? That's our terrible loss. I can say no more than that."
TG4 then broadcast a performance at the Fleadh by Ballyboy Comhaltas, including Amy and Raymond Murphy, of 'Jackie Coleman's / The Kerry Reel'.
Raymond and Amy also contributed to a tribute performance of 'Sweet Sixteen', the Furey Brothers' hit, and a song that Ashling loved. It was sung by Bressie and Cathy Davey, among others.
In his remarks at the opening of the Fleadh, President Michael D Higgins said Ashling's absence was deeply felt this year.
"We remember, too, Ashling Murphy the young Irish primary school teacher and traditional Irish musician who was taken from us earlier this year so tragically," he said.