The GAA is reeling today following the massive sense of shock occasioned by the sudden death of 27-year-old Michaela Harte, daughter of Tyrone’s triple All Ireland winning boss Mickey Harte, while on honeymoon in Mauritius.
Just 10 days after marrying Down club player John McAreavey, Michaela, a member of the teaching staff at St Patrick’s Academy Dungannon and a familiar figure in GAA circles, passed away yesterday.
Ever since her father took over as Tyrone senior football team manager in 2003, the year in which he guided the Red Hands to their first All Ireland title, the vivacious Michaela was an ever-present at matches and was clearly the apple of her father’s eye.
Her tragic death plunged Tyrone in particular into mourning — she was known to all and sundry within the county, her charismatic personality having won her many friends.
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Last night glowing tributes, led by Tyrone county board chairman Ciaran McLaughlin, were being paid to Michaela and to the Harte family who today find themselves burdened by unspeakable grief.
“No one has rendered more assistance to those who in the past have found themselves overtaken by tragedy than Mickey and his wife Marion,” said McLaughlin, “I know for a fact that they have been a strong source of consolation to many families who have suffered losses. Now it is time for the GAA family as a whole to rally round Mickey and those closest to him.”
The Tyrone chairman added: “She enjoyed huge popularity because of her personality and her easy-going manner. Her death in such tragic circumstances has devastated us all.”
And Ulster Council secretary Danny Murphy in describing Michaela as a girl “with a wonderful zest for life” said she had enriched the lives of all those with whom she had come into contact.