Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Harte tragedy: 'Michaela was truly special and I was privileged to have known her'

Michaela Harte  after she had received a B.Ed at Queens University Belfast. (Picture taken in June 2006)
Michaela Harte after she had received a B.Ed at Queens University Belfast. (Picture taken in June 2006)
A distraught Mickey Harte with sons Matthew (left) and Michael at their family home near Ballygawley
A distraught Mickey Harte at his family home near Ballygawley
Balloons with the couple's names giving directions to St Malachy's Church outside Ballygwley where they recently got married
Wedding flowers from the couple's recent marriage at St Malachy's Church outside Ballygawley
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 11/1/2011Mandatory Credit - Picture by Justin KernoghanA distraught Mickey Harte with sons Matthew (left) and Michael at their family home near Ballygawley today.Michaela, the daughter of Tyrone gaelic football manager Mickey Harte was strangled, Mauritius police have said.Michaela McAreavey, 27, was found dead at the Legends hotel in Mauritius where she was staying while on honeymoon.The 27-year-old Irish woman had married John McAreavey, a member of Down's gaelic football team, on 30 December. He is not a suspect.Police in Mauritius intend to question six people about the killing later on Tuesday.
A wedding sign and balloons telling wedding guests directions to the church near the family home in Ballygawley
Mickey Harte (centre), is comforted at the family home outside Ballygawley in Co Tyrone
(From the left) Mickey Harte, John McAreavey, Michaela Harte, Bishop John McAreavey and Brendan McAreavey are seen on the wedding day of Michaela Harte and John McAreavey
Donegal Celtic and Cliftonville observe a minutes silence in respect of Michaela Harte at the game in west Belfast
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte and his daughter Michaella
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte and his daughter Michaela after the All Ireland Football Final 28/9/2003
Michaela Harte, daughter of Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte. Pic by Ian Magill. 23/3/10.Real Woman feature by Stephanie Bell.
Michaela Harte
Irish News handout of (left to right) Mickey Harte, John McAreavey, Michaela Harte, Bishop John McAreavey and Brendan McAreavey on the wedding day of Michaela Harte and John McAreavey at St. Malacheys Church Ballymacilrory on December 30, 2010. Michaela, the daughter of Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte was murdered in her hotel room, police in Mauritius confirmed today.
John McAreavey and wife Michaela Harte are seen on their wedding day
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte with his son David and daughter Michaela after his side's win at Croke Park
Tyrone GAA boss Mickey Harte graduates at Queens University pictured with his daughter Machela who also graduatedand became a Bachelor in Education
Michaela Harte appearing on the television programme the Late Late Show.
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte celebrates with his daughter Michaela and his son Matthew
John McAreavey and wife Michaela Harte are seen on their wedding day at St. Malacheys Church Ballymacilrory on December 30, 2010.
Mickey Harte, pictured in 2006 with his daughter Michaela

I was listening to RTE radio in a manner that could never be replicated with television; I was conscious of the words flowing forth but yet busy in concentration on some other matter.

Suddenly two words resonated through the airwaves -- Michaela Harte -- and immediately they captured my full attention.

Before long I had the initial story about the tragedy that had befallen the young lady from Tyrone who lost her life while on honeymoon in Mauritius with her husband of less than two weeks, John McAreavey from Down.

To say that the news was heart-rending would be an understatement from anyone who ever had the privilege of meeting Michaela and getting even a glimmer of the wonderful human being she was.

I can say that I had the honour on many occasions over the past 15 years or thereabouts of talking to her and from the start she impressed me as somebody who was really special.

She always looked well, she smiled with ease and grace, smiles of inner happiness, she spoke in a friendly manner, mostly in the Irish language and never once can I recall her being other than positive and hopeful about the future.

I remember that she spoke to me in Irish on our first meeting and expressed her great interest in the language and of course in Gaelic football as well.

The latter was not difficult to understand because she was the daughter of Mickey Harte and football had been part of the Harte household for decades.

Michaela was always at Mickey's side at training sessions and at matches 'big and small' throughout the country.

Somehow I soon regarded her as almost a member of the teams managed by her father and it was obvious a very special bond existed between the pair.

To me that mutual understanding had many elements; and pride, faith and hope would be among them but above all loyalty to each other and the great 'cause' of Tyrone football.

Before long I began to believe that both were on a mission, one that would bring the county to the pinnacle of senior success in time. It is possible that the vision was hatched in Michaela's mind.

The Gaelic world is well aware of the great days that brought that to reality with Michaela ever a part of the 'team'. Without ever gloating over the fantastic successses she witnessed there was no doubting her admiration for the players who led the way and brought the Sam Maguire Cup to the county on three occasions.

Meanwhile, she had completed her third-level education in Saint Mary's College in Belfast and often told me about her good progress with the Irish language.

Soon she began her teaching career and quickly became popular with pupils, fellow teachers and parents alike.

The world appeared at her feet and her marriage to John was hailed far and wide. And then suddenly those words from the radio scattered sadness and disbelief throughout the country and beyond.

To leave a message of condolence to the Harte family please click here

It must be completely beyond the ability of the Harte and McAreavey families to make sense of the sequence of events that led to the tragedy of the death of one so perfect as the Michaela that I was proud to call a friend.

Our sympathies go forth to them and if it's any consolation there were not too many humans over the ages with the characteristics that almost pre-ordained that heaven was made for such.

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