Tuesday 27 June 2017

Thousands attend funeral of Michaela Harte

Michaela Harte's funeral cortege makes its way to St Malachy's church in Ballygawley, Co Tyrone. Photo: PA
Michaela's father Mickey and widower John McAreavey follow the funeral cortege. Photo: PA
Michaela's brother Mark Harte carries her coffin from their parents' home in Ballygawley. Photo: PA
Members from local club Errigal Ciaran, which Mickey Harte used to manage, provided a guard of honour. Photo: PA
A honeymoon photo of murdered Michaela with her husband John was released by the grieving family yesterday
The loving couple pictured outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
A photo, also released by the family, of the couple at the Giant's Causeway in Co Antrim
A marquee is set up at St Malachy's Church outside Ballygawley, Co Tyrone, in preparation for the funeral of Michaela Harte which takes place today

Heartbroken gaelic football manager Mickey Harte helped shoulder the coffin as thousands of people joined the funeral cortege for his murdered newlywed daughter today.

One of the North's busiest roads was blocked to all traffic as mourners made their way to St Malachy's church outside Ballygawley where Michaela McAreavey, 27, was buried in her wedding dress.

President Mary McAleese was among those who attended the funeral of Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte's daughter. Many others followed the cortege from the family home in bright winter sunshine.

It was one of the biggest funerals in the North for several years, with political and community representatives from all sides attending.

The roads were lined with hundreds of GAA fans and friends of the young Irish language teacher who was strangled in her honeymoon suite in Mauritius a week ago - just days after she was married in the same church where Requiem Mass was held today.

Her widower John, parents Mickey and Marian, and brothers Mark, Michael and Mattie have been devastated by the death. Mr McAreavey and Mr Harte carried the coffin in sombre silence.

Tyrone senior gaelic football team members and local club Errigal Ciaran, which Mr Harte used to manage, provided a guard of honour from her parents' home to the church.

On arrival, another guard of honour was provided by Mr McAreavy's local football club, Tullylish in Co Down, and Mrs McAreavey's form class at St Patrick's Academy in Dungannon.

Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Sean Brady presided over the Mass where mourners heard about the couple's deep abiding love for each other.

Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey, the groom's uncle, said they lived for one another and supported each other. Their lives revolved around one another and each talked endlessly about the other.

He told mourners inside the packed church: "Their hopes for the future were bound up with each other."

He said an evil act had ended Michael's young life and robbed Mr McAreavey of a beautiful wife.

It deprived the Harte family of a precious daughter and sister and the McAreavey family of a daughter-in-law they looked forward to having. It had shattered hopes and dreams for the future.

Shaken

The bishop said: "Even those of us who are older and who have had some experience of tragedy have been shaken to the core by what has happened. We are still in a state of shock."

A number of symbols were presented at the start of the Mass by members of Michaela's family.

They included a family photograph representing her love of family, the source of her truth, integrity and devotion.

Prayer was a part of daily life and rosary beads symbolised her deep faith.

From an early age the Irish teacher held a great love of the language and that was shown by the fainne. That led her to touch young minds and hearts.

The pioneer pin of somebody who does not drink alcohol on religious grounds reflected Mrs McAreavey's Catholic faith in action.

She was the Ulster Rose in the Rose of Tralee beauty contest in 2004 and the flower was presented as a symbol of beauty and love.

The High Commissioner of Mauritius to the UK, Abhimanu Kundasamy, was among dignitaries present, as was Stormont Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

The Church of Ireland was represented by the Bishop of Down and Dromore, Harold Miller, and Bishop of Derry and Raphoe Ken Good.

Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson was represented by Mary Madden and Taoiseach Brian Cowen by Commandant Michael Tracey.

Caledonia was sung by Mary Black during the service. The captain of Tyrone, Brian Dooher, gave the first reading. Southwinds, an instrumental piece was played by Michaela's first cousins Cathal, Marisa and Cathy Harte.

Friends and colleagues of the couple also took part in the Mass.

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