The Dalai Lama comforts Mickey Harte
Heartbroken Gaelic football manager Mickey Harte was profoundly moved as he listened to the Dalai Lama speak about the power of forgiveness, he revealed.
The Tyrone boss, whose daughter Michaela was murdered on honeymoon in January, and his grieving son-in-law John McAreavey made a 700km round-trip to see the Tibetan spiritual leader in Limerick.
“We wanted to be here, we had the opportunity to be here and we're grateful for the opportunity,” he said.
“We hoped we would find something of value and we have.”
The pair joined more than 3,000 people who packed into the University of Limerick's sports arena to listen to the exiled Nobel peace laureate on the final day of his two-day visit to the Republic.
Mary and Anthony Geoghegan, the mother and brother of murdered rugby captain Shane Geoghegan, former rugby international Keith Wood and former Bishop of Limerick, Donal Murray were among them.
A devastated Mr Harte, who has also lost two brothers over the past six months, described the world leader's talk on compassion and forgiveness as a very personal experience.
“That's a real strong message for anybody, of the value and power of forgiveness,” he said.
“Not every one of us can take that on board to that extent, but there is a certain lesson there for us to aspire to.”
Speaking about his own personal torment, he said: “Every day is emotional.”
Mr Harte, who is known for his deep spirituality, said he had taken a lot of comfort from the Dalai Lama.
“He's a special man and the simplicity of his message is profound,” he said.
“Maybe that's what we ought to look for — the simple things in life. That's where real value lies and I think we all learnt that today.”
In his first visit to Ireland in two decades, 76-year-old Tenzin Gyatso delivered an address on the power of forgiveness, organised by Richard Moore.
The Children in Crossfire charity boss was shot and blinded, aged 10, by a British soldier as he made his way home from school in Londonderry in 1972.
Described by the Buddhist leader as “my hero”, Mr Moore sought out the soldier who struck him, Charles Innes, and the two later became friends.
The Dalai Lama, who is the 14th to hold the position, gripped the hand of Mr Moore repeatedly during his address, and thousands of onlookers erupted into applause when, during a moment of spontaneity, Mr Innes emerged from the gathering and joined the two on stage in a poignant embrace.
Mickey Harte's only daughter was murdered in January while on honeymoon with her new husband. The 28-year-old former beauty queen was strangled after she apparently disturbed intruders in the couple's hotel room.
In February, the Tyrone GAA boss’s eldest brother, Paddy, also died. It was the latest in a string of tragedies for Harte, who lost his daughter, two brothers and his mother-in-law in the space of six months.