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How John found love and new passion for life following Michaela's murder

It's happiness at last for new husband John McAreavey, by Nicola Anderson

Published 01/10/2016

John McAreavey and bride Tara Brennan
John McAreavey and bride Tara Brennan
John with Michaela

Five years after the murder of Michaela Harte, John McAreavey marries again," proclaimed the headline on a news site in Mauritius. The names needed no explanation, being as familiar on the Indian Ocean island as they are at home.

"It's a case of rebuilding your life," a devastated John McAreavey told the state prosecutor in Mauritius during the 2012 trial, which ultimately failed to convict anyone over the brutal slaying of Michaela, his bride of just 11 days.

"It's extremely, extremely hard. Everything was finished on that day. Everything was destroyed - our dreams were destroyed, the dreams of our children," he said amid the silence of a ramshackle courtroom in Mauritius.

The death of his first love on honeymoon in January 2011, when Michaela's lifeless body was discovered in the bath of their hotel room, the subsequent hardship of the trial, with its bitter failure to get justice for Michaela and the heartbreak of finding out that photographs of his wife's dead body were plastered over the front page of a leading newspaper in Mauritius have been a heavy cross to bear.

But, five years on from Michaela's death, the former GAA player has found happiness in his life once again.

John (34) and fellow accountant Tara Brennan, from Co Kildare, quietly exchanged vows earlier this month.

They became engaged last October to the joy of family and friends - and the blessing and support of his late bride's parents, Mickey and Marian Harte.

It first emerged that John and Tara were a couple in January 2014 - although it seems a friendship first blossomed after a mutual friend introduced the pair on a night out in Dublin a year before.

They holidayed together in New York where they watched an NBA basketball game together and he took her to a friend's wedding in Belfast.

The couple have regularly taken part in various charity events, including a fundraiser for Pieta House, a suicide crisis centre, and Team Hope Ireland, while she works alongside him at the Michaela Foundation to support youngsters.

Last October, the happy young couple confirmed their commitment when Tara was spotted wearing a diamond ring on her wedding finger at the premiere of the James Bond movie Spectre in Belfast.

Their wedding earlier this month was low-key, with John subsequently posting a bridal photo of the happy couple on his Facebook page, captioned with a love heart.

Last March, Mr McAreavey gave an impassioned address to a congregation of over 1,000 people at the Knock Shrine in Co Mayo in which he revealed that it was only in the last year or two that he had managed to rediscover the faith and energy in his life and to see that the world is a beautiful place.

"And coming from a situation where everything was dark and gloomy, with no light, it is a wonderful thing for me to be able to say that I am able to love again," he said.

"My fiancee Tara has shown me the beauty of life again, all the good things about life and what I have learned is that I am able to deal with anything that life puts in front of me because I know that I will always have God at my side."

Mr McAreavey said that the murder of his wife was extremely difficult to deal with, but that his Catholic faith was the key instrument in him coming to terms with it.

"I do not want to be identified as a victim, a 'poor me' complex or to be seen as seeking sympathy," he said.

"For me, 'poor tragic husband, the man whose wife was murdered on their honeymoon', that description does not say who I am, or what I do. I am a strong, confident person, full of love and integrity and other positive traits and this is how I identify myself.

"There was the pain of losing a loved one in such a cruel and tragic manner, then the injustice in the aftermath of that time. And I admit that there were times when there really was no hope left in my life and I could no longer bear such a heavy cross.

"When something like that happens, we can either react with bitterness or seek to transform suffering into a creative force and I decided to choose the latter," he added.

Belfast Telegraph

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