Michaela McAreavey inspired me to take part in Rose of Tralee, says her former pupil
A Rose of Tralee contestant last night spoke of how she was inspired to take part by her teacher -- the late Michaela McAreavey.
Catherine Sherry, who represented Tyrone at this year's festival, said the tragic honeymooner had no idea how much influence she had had on her students.
Ms McAreavey, who was the only daughter of Tyrone senior football manager Mickey Harte, was herself the Ulster Rose in 2004.
She was murdered in Mauritius on January 10, 2011, while honeymooning with her new husband John.
In July, two men were acquitted of her murder.
Roses were among the symbols brought to the altar at her funeral to signify her participation in the festival.
Last night, Catherine, who at 19 years of age was one of the youngest Roses in this year's competition along with Kilkenny's Aoibhin Murphy, recalled Ms McAreavey's influence on her life.
She studied at St Patrick's Academy in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, and was taught Irish for two years by Ms McAreavey.
"I don't think she ever realised how inspiring she was," Catherine told the Irish Independent.
"She not only helped me get my A in Irish, she also inspired me to enter the Rose of Tralee.
"She always spoke highly of the Rose of Tralee and told us about her own experiences as a Rose. She was an inspiration to me and to many others."
Catherine is now studying for a degree in Primary Education at St Mary's University College, Belfast, and hopes to become a teacher too.
She paid tribute to Ms McAreavey and the 2010 Texas Rose Adrienne Hussey who died in Dublin in January this year aged just 26.
"We're here because of these people. Michaela was an inspiration to me and what better way to show her that than to be here," she said.