Michaela McAreavey’s widower John has opened his heart about the special bond he still feels with her — and his hope that life will one day be happy again.
The well-known GAA player also spoke of how working with a foundation set up to celebrate the young teacher’s life helps him cope with her murder.
John and Michaela’s father, Tyrone GAA boss Mickey Harte, both spoke of their enduring sense of loss yesterday as they joined forces to announce details of a fundraising Gaelic football match.
Paying tribute to his only daughter, Mickey said he had faith that justice would prevail as the hunt for her killer goes on.
The pair announced details of ‘Match For Michaela: A Festival With Football’ which will raise funds for the foundation set up in her memory.
The game, on November 3 at Casement Park, will see new All-Ireland champions Donegal take on an Ulster select.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph at the west Belfast stadium, both John and Mickey revealed the importance of their work for the Michaela Foundation in dealing with her murder while on honeymoon last January.
John, a Down GAA player, said he still feels a “special bond” with his wife and finds life very hard without her.
“You have to pick yourself up and live your life,” John said.
“My life used to be wonderful and maybe one day it will be again.
“The Michaela Foundation helps me with this. It's like we
are carrying on her work. We have already presented three students with financial awards so they can study. We have also set up the Michaela Girls Camp, which we hope to roll out into other countries.”
John promised that the Match For Michaela would be an evening of entertainment and football.
“The proceeds will help fund the Michaela Centre which will be located in Tyrone and act as a hub for all future activities,” he said.
Michaela was a familiar face in the GAA community through her staunch support for her father and his Tyrone team. The GAA rallied to support the Harte and McAreavey families in the wake of her murder while on honeymoon on Mauritius.
John endured the ordeal of a lengthy — and often disrespectful — trial on the island earlier this year during which two men accused of the murder were acquitted.
Mickey said he still struggles with the pain of Michaela’s loss, but gains strength from his faith.
“It is still a burden every day and it breaks my heart,” he said.
“I hope justice will prevail and everything is sorted out in a better fashion than it has been to date.
“However, I am lucky to be blessed with a grace from God so this quest for justice on Earth does not consume me.
“Even though she is no longer with us, she is still here spiritually guiding me,” he added.
The event, which is expected to attract thousands, will also include a performance from X Factor finalist Janet Devlin.
“As well as remembering Michaela in a unique way, this is a celebration of the many good things in life that she loved such as traditional music and Gaelic games,” Mickey added.