Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Michaela Harte McAreavey funeral: Thousands say final goodbye to murdered honeymoon bride

John McAreavey places the coffin of his wife Michaela McAreavey, 27, daughter of Tyrone Gaelic football boss Mickey Harte in the back of the hearse.
Poignant message and flowers from Michaela McAreavey's family
Mickey Harte, pictured in 2006 with his daughter Michaela

Heartbroken gaelic football manager Mickey Harte helped shoulder the coffin for his murdered newly-wed daughter as thousands of people joined the funeral cortege.

One of Northern Ireland's busiest roads was blocked to all traffic as mourners made their way to St Malachy's church outside Ballygawley where Michaela McAreavey, 27, was buried in her wedding dress.

Irish President Mary McAleese was among those who attended the funeral of Tyrone GAA manager Harte's daughter. Many others followed the cortege from the family home in bright winter sunshine.

It was one of the biggest funerals in Northern Ireland for several years, with political and community representatives from all sides attending.

The roads were lined with hundreds of GAA fans and friends of the young Irish language teacher who was strangled in her honeymoon suite in Mauritius a week ago - just days after she was married in the same church where Requiem Mass was held.

Her widower John, parents Mickey and Marian, and brothers Mark, Michael and Mattie have been devastated by the death. Mr McAreavey and Mr Harte carried the coffin in sombre silence.

You can leave of messages of condolence to the Harte and McAreavey families here

Tyrone senior gaelic football team members and local club Errigal Ciaran, which Mr Harte used to manage, provided a guard of honour from her parents' home to the church. On arrival, another guard of honour was provided by Mr McAreavy's local football club, Tullylish in Co Down, and Mrs McAreavey's form class at St Patrick's Academy in Dungannon.

Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Sean Brady presided over the Mass.

Mourners heard about the couple's deep abiding love for each other.

Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey, the groom's uncle, said they lived for one another and supported each other. Their lives revolved around one another and each talked endlessly about the other.

He told mourners inside the packed church: "Their hopes for the future were bound up with each other."

He said an evil act had ended Mrs McAreavey's young life and robbed Mr McAreavey of a beautiful wife.

It deprived the Harte family of a precious daughter and sister and the McAreavey family of a daughter-in-law they looked forward to having. It had shattered hopes and dreams for the future.

The bishop said: "Even those of us who are older and who have had some experience of tragedy have been shaken to the core by what has happened. We are still in a state of shock."

A number of symbols were presented at the start of the Mass by members of Mrs McAreavey's family.

They included a family photograph representing her love of family, the source of her truth, integrity and devotion.

Prayer was a part of daily life and rosary beads symbolised her deep faith.

From an early age the Irish teacher held a great love of the language and that was shown by the fainne, an emblem worn by people who speak Irish. That led her to touch young minds and hearts.

The pioneer pin of somebody who does not drink alcohol on religious grounds reflected Mrs McAreavey's Catholic faith in action.

She was the Ulster Rose in the Rose of Tralee beauty contest in 2004 and the flower was presented as a symbol of beauty and love.

As Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson addressed representatives at Stormont as the legislature reconvened after its Christmas break, he said the 27-year-old's tragic death had captured public attention and united people in grief.

Mr Robinson said the young teacher had been a valued relative and friend to those who shared her life, but that their warm tributes meant many more people now felt they knew her. Ulster Unionist representative Danny Kennedy, who said he knew the McAreavey family, extended his sympathies to the young woman's bereaved relatives and those of her husband John.

TRAGEDY HAS 'UNITED THE COMMUNITY IN GRIEF'

Memories of the murdered honeymooner Michaela McAreavey have united people in grief, Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson has said.

The DUP leader addressed representatives at Stormont as the legislature reconvened after its Christmas break and said the tragic death of the 27-year-old had captured public attention.

Mr Robinson said the young teacher had been a valued relative and friend to those who shared her life, but that their warm tributes meant many more people now felt they knew her.

He said: "This isn't a time to talk about the circumstances of her tragic death, but we do want to see justice done, and we support those in Mauritius who are engaged in that task.

"Any life taken away by murder is a horrific event, all the more so when it is of a young person.

"The loss is even more harrowing and devastating because the victim in this case was a beautiful young woman who was on her honeymoon.

"Michaela was known to a wide circle of family and friends, but this past week I believe we now all feel that we knew her.

"From the stories that we have heard, from seeing her on television, and reading in our newspapers.

"This is one of the rare tragedies that has captured public attention and united the community in grief."

Ulster Unionist representative Danny Kennedy, who said he knew the McAreavey family, extended his sympathies to the young woman's bereaved relatives and those of her husband John.

"It is difficult to comprehend the trauma and grief that they are feeling today," he said.

"For such a young life to end in such circumstances seems at times unreal.

"This tragedy has touched many people across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and I would like to pay tribute to the dignified manner in which both the Harte and McAreavey families have conducted themselves in what is an unimaginably difficult time."

Members of all Northern Ireland's main political parties have extended their sympathies to the bereaved families.

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