VIGILS have taken place across the island of Ireland to remember murdered teacher Ashling Murphy.

Irish police are continuing the hunt for the killer of the 23-year-old, who was found dead on Wednesday after going for a run on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore, Co Offaly.

Thousands of people gathered in the late afternoon in Tullamore, Dublin and Belfast, as well as in many other towns across the island.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin was among those who gathered outside the Dail on Friday, while deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill joined the crowd at City Hall in Belfast.

Further vigils and memorial events are expected to be held in the days to come.

In Tullamore, shops, businesses and cafes closed early as thousands attended the vigil in a local park.

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Friends of Ms Murphy were among the traditional Irish musicians who played at the vigil in Tullamore.

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said: "We, as a society, need to face up to this. There is an epidemic of violence against women. It's been going on for millennia.

"Men and boys, I think, in particular have a responsibility to start to have that conversation among ourselves about the kind of factors, the kind of attitudes, that give rise to feelings that engender men to commit acts of violence against women."

On Friday, gardai issued a renewed appeal for witnesses and asked anyone with information about a bicycle — a Falcon Storm mountain bike with straight handlebars and distinctive yellow/green front forks — to come forward.

On Thursday, officers released a man they had been questioning, saying he is "no longer a suspect". The man's solicitor told the PA news agency that he has had his "life ruined".

Ms Murphy's father Raymond said: "She was a great worker, with great drive. A marvellous musician.

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"She crammed so much into her short life."

Those who knew her described her as a gifted musician who was loved by her pupils.

It is believed about 50 officers are working on the investigation and a post-mortem examination has been completed.

The route along the Grand Canal is often busy and is a popular spot for walkers and joggers.

Floral tributes were left outside the gates of Durrow National School, where Ms Murphy taught, and on Friday the school issued a fresh tribute to her.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the school said it was "utterly devastated by the passing of our dear colleague and friend".

"Ashling was a very professional and talented young teacher. We are deeply saddened by her tragic loss. Our thoughts are also with her beloved family at this sad time."