Friday 22 September 2017

Heartbroken Mickey pays tribute to Michaela

A devastated Mickey Harte outside the family home near Ballygawley, Co Tyrone yesterday with two of his sons Matthew (left) and Michael
Michaela Harte in fancy dress at St Malachy's Primary School, where she had attended as a pupil and later performed her teaching placement
Mickey and Marian Harte
Balloons bearing Michaela and John's names were still in evidence yesterday on a signpost near St Malachy's Church where the young couple got married just weeks ago
Michaela and John on their wedding day
Michaela Harte at the Rose of Tralee in 2004 with escort Barry Mollaghan (left) and host Ryan Tubridy
Police at the Legends Hotel resort in Mauritius, where the body of Michaela Harte was discovered
A member of staff at the hotel speaks to the press after the discovery of the 27-year-old's body

Eimear Ni Bhraonain and Deric Henderson

Heartbroken Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte yesterday tried to sum up his devastation over the murder of his "beautiful" daughter.

Just 12 days after he walked her up the aisle on her wedding day he is planning her funeral.

"What a day she had on her wedding day. She was just radiant, a beautiful girl, and I just loved her to bits. So did her whole family. We are so devastated."

Mr Harte added: "This is the worst nightmare that anyone can imagine. If you think things can be bad, then you go beyond that because that is where we are."

Mr Harte said her death had left his family shattered. Michaela had been "a gem".

In his home near Ballygawley, Co Tyrone, he stood with two of his three sons, Matthew and Michael, and said: "This is too horrible to contemplate. We are just all devastated. It is the worst of the worst and our hearts are broken."

His son Mark is expected to arrive in Mauritius tomorrow with a brother of Michaela's husband, John McAreavey, who is a Down Gaelic footballer.

Friends who arrived at the Harte family home, just off the main road to Omagh, and who embraced Mr Harte and his wife Marian, included Down GAA legends Sean O'Neill and Maurice Hayes.

"We just loved our Michaela. She was such a good girl. Every father says that about their daughter, but I can say that without a shadow of doubt. She was a gem and we will always remember her," Mr Harte said.

"The McAreavey family are so special to us too. There is a special bond. John is a special lad. You have to be special if you're going to be Michaela's husband.

"John is out in Mauritius. He is isolated out there. It has been an awful time. Our hearts go out to him and I would ask everyone to please respect his privacy."

The couple were on the second leg of their honeymoon after first flying out to Dubai.

Mr Harte left them at Dublin Airport the day after the marriage ceremony, which was held close to the family home.

Community

He said the support from the community, throughout the GAA community, throughout the wider community in the North, throughout Ireland and across the water, was immense.

"We are grateful for that. Thank God for great people. Michaela was a lovely girl, a wonderful daughter, a brilliant sister for these boys and we will always treasure her.

"She was a beautiful girl. She couldn't be better, couldn't be nicer. God love her, we are so, so sorry," Mr Harte added.

"We are equally sorry for poor John her husband whom she adored. He adored her.

"They did not get so long to share their lives with each other. It is such a shame. Our hearts are broken.

"A lot of people have had this experience before. We have tried to empathise with them. But you can't get the feeling unless you have been there. And God save anybody having to go to this place.

"But we thank God for the people who are there, the support that is there, and the prayers that are there. We know they are coming in thick and fast, and it is so good at this time. We need that.

"And we need the bit of privacy now. This is how we feel. Many people have felt like this in the past and this is our day to bear the cross," he said.

Irish Independent

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