Delight for John McAreavey as it's confirmed he is engaged to Tara Brennan
A second chance at happiness as time heals the deepest heartache
Published 01/11/2015 | 02:30
After the brutal murder of his beloved bride Michaela, John McAreavey felt the cross he had been given to carry was simply too heavy to bear.
Now nearly five years after he suffered the darkest of days in Mauritius, he has found the light of lifelong love once again.
To the unconditional joy of family and friends, including his late bride's parents, the young widower is set to walk down the aisle after proposing to his beautiful new love, Tara.
Last night, a close friend of the Harte family confirmed the engagement to the Sunday Independent.
The smitten young couple set rumour mills swirling when Tara Brennan was spotted wearing a large sparkling diamond ring on her wedding finger at the première of new James Bond movie, Spectre, in Belfast.
"They are engaged. It happened just a few weeks ago, around the start of October," said the family friend.
"Everyone is very pleased for them, they are a lovely couple, it's hard to describe. It's a beautiful thing and John has to rebuild his life," he said.
Mr McAreavey (34) posted a photograph of the lovebirds at the event on his Twitter account last Monday.
Almost five years after the tragic death of the GAA player's first wife Michaela, the Harte family have given John their full blessings.
"John has the complete support of the Harte family in his decision. He still has a very close relationship with them and that will never stop," he said.
"Mickey Harte has been with John on several occasions over the years, so he's very happy for him," he said.
The wider Ulster GAA community is also thrilled for young couple, both accountants, who first met at a work event in Dublin in 2013.
"John lives in a very close-knit community and his family are delighted for him. Tara is lovely, she's an absolutely gorgeous girl," he said.
The date of their upcoming nuptials is not yet known.
The bride-to-be, a native of Kildare, works as an accountant in Belfast.
However, she has also spent recent summers working alongside John at the 'Michaela Foundation: Life Without Limits' - established to commemorate and celebrate the values of his first wife, who was brutally murdered on their honeymoon in Mauritius in 2011.
The core values of the charity, which is tailored to young people, include: a love of Irish language and cultural identity, faith, fun, wellbeing and fashion.
The foundation offers retreats, workshops and summer camps for young people throughout Ireland who want to establish a faith-filled life.
John McAreavey first spoke about finding love again during an interview last year.
He said was "thankful" that Tara came into his life, but added that "Michaela will always be a part of my life".
"Myself and Tara get on really well and we're really good friends," the former inter-county footballer told Pat Kenny on his Newstalk show.
"That relationship continues to blossom and I am so thankful she came into my life, she's a wonderful person and I love spending time with her.
"Michaela will always be a part of my life," he continued.
Despite enduring incredible heartbreak, he said he doesn't see Michaela "as being completely lost".
"What helps me be optimistic is that I know where Michaela is now, and I know she is very happy where she is. She's just in a different place now," he said.
He said he managed to get through difficult periods due to the great support of his family and friends.
"The first number of months, I still felt like I was very much in shock," he said of the death of Michaela.
John has also always credited his strong faith and relationship with God, who he describes as "a personal friend", with getting his life back on track.
However, he has also admitted that the pain of her murder is, at times, "too much of a cross to bear".
Last summer, speaking as a guest of the Little Way Novena at St Eugene's Cathedral in Derry, he spoke courageously of how, at the time, he was "left with no hope. For sure, the pain of losing a loved one in such a cruel, cruel way and then to be compounded by the injustice of everything afterwards, I'll admit that at times I did think, 'No, this is just too much'.
"That burden, that weight was just too much for me, too much of a heavy cross to ask someone to bear," he told a packed congregation as they sat in complete silence.
"When I had those temptations to feel like that and to want to almost wallow in self-pity, to be left with the temptation there is no hope left, there was always something there that came to me to sustain me in those dark times and, I suppose, sustain my determination that I would get through this suffering," he said.
In the midst of his trauma, and the subsequent trial and acquittal of those accused, Mr McAreavey found solace and healing through his deep relationship with God.
"You could react with bitterness, the anger, or you could choose to transform that suffering to go the opposite way and to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided the latter was for me."