The unthinkable murder last week of grade school teacher Ashling Murphy while jogging along a canal pathway in Tullamore, Co. Offaly, her hometown, has sparked an incredible level of sadness and anger among those left behind.
Tullamore in the Irish midlands is about as quiet a town as you will find in Ireland, rarely in the spotlight, the kind of town people pass through rather than linger in. But evil came to Tullamore last week, with a dark and shocking murder of Ashling Muprhy that stunned not just the local populace but Irish across the world including in New York.
The fact that there were prayer vigils all over Ireland, in Britain and the U.S., showed how deeply the story upset and reminded people of the level of violence women can often sustain at the hands of disturbed men.
It was not the only shocking incident involving women being randomly murdered by men. On Saturday in Manhattan a 40-year old, Michelle Alyssa Go, a financial services expert with a long history of mentoring and helping young women overcome tough childhoods, was pushed under a subway train and killed instantly by a deranged homeless man.
Michelle Alyssa Go: Accused NYC subway shover held without bail as cops probe for racial biashttps://t.co/xcWiiDICXP— Fox News (@FoxNews) January 19, 2022
Like Michelle, Ashling Murphy was an inspirational young woman, beloved by her young students and a very promising Irish violin player who came from a wonderful musical family.
The cold-blooded nature of her killing, where she appeared to be stalked by the perpetrator on a bicycle before he attacked her, sent shivers down the spine of every young Irish woman who goes out jogging, as well as unleashing a wave of sympathy and distress across the nation and indeed, across the Irish world.
Even Taoiseach Micheal Martin saw it necessary to go on national television to mourn Ashling, whose vibrant face and features were on every front page in Ireland and Britain while videos of her Irish music prowess are everywhere.
Violence against innocent women is not a new problem, but it definitely seems that in the clutches of this pandemic there is more opportunity for crime and heightened tensions as millions went into lockdown.
Of course, no amount of lockdown should lead to such horrific accidents and it appears the New York killing was carried out by a familiar type, a mentally ill homeless person who proclaimed himself as God when asked his name.
There is no question that violence has increased during the pandemic as the crime numbers do not lie. There seems little resolution in sight.
Practical moves in New York certainly, and other major cities, include a much larger investment in recruiting and training policemen and women. Penn Station in New York is an example where, since the pandemic struck, the number of homeless and mentally ill have hugely increased. Their presence has made commuters less safe not just in the station, but in the surrounding streets adjacent to Penn.
As for Ashling’s case, there was no obvious remedy to stop such horrific and random violence unless the person had been in contact with authorities and had a previous record, neither of which is known at this point.
There are no easy solutions to the issue of violence against women, yet that does not allow for complacency.
Two beautiful young women are dead as a result of manic murderers who likely gave little indication that they possessed the evil intent they showed.
Hopefully, the heightened awareness around crimes against women will help get the message across that better efforts need to be made to identify potential violent men who carry out such crimes. The sight of the grieving families of Ashling and Michelle is surely incentive enough to redouble women’s safety efforts.
* This article was published in our sister publication, New York's Irish Voice, as its Editorial on Wed, Jan 19, 2022.