Wednesday 21 March 2018

A short life that was packed full of generosity and support

Michaela and Mickey Harte, pictured in 2006
Michaela and Mickey Harte, pictured in 2006

Grainne Cunningham

MICHAELA Harte may be best-known publicly as a constant presence beside her beloved dad, Tyrone football manager Mickey.

But she also enjoyed a spell in the limelight in her own right and, for that period, the father/daughter roles were reversed.

When Michaela was chosen to represent Ulster in the Rose of Tralee competition in 2004, Mickey took pleasure in stepping into the role of support while she played leading lady.

For the entire festival, Mickey followed Michaela around, sometimes with a suit-bag over one arm, while the Ulster Rose greeted the crowd or got ready for the next public appearance.

He even noted that, as she had not missed any of his matches, it was all he could do to return the favour.

Kilkenny Rose Orla O'Shea, who went on to win the Rose that year, described Michaela as "a true lady".

"She was really gentle but she was also great fun. . . she had a great sense of style, she was absolutely gorgeous," she told the Irish Independent last night.

Orla said Michaela was generous to the other entrants, offering to do their fake tan for them. "But she was generous with her time as well as her things," she said.

Orla spoke to her friend a few weeks ago, in the lead-up to Michaela's wedding.

"She was so excited . . . she said she could not stop giggling at the rehearsal," Orla said.

"She had a charm, a real presence . . . and her family were so proud of her," she added.

On New Year's Eve, Michaela married Co Down footballer John McAreavey before heading off on her dream honeymoon to the Indian Ocean island.

The timing fitted well, as she was on holiday from her job as a secondary-school teacher in the Irish department of St Patrick's Academy, Dungannon, Co Tyrone.

Since the age of seven, Mickey and Marian Harte's only daughter was a well-known face at GAA matches, declaring on 'The Late Late Show' with her dad that she had not missed a Tyrone game in 17 years.

When her dad became manager, she played a more pivotal role -- beautiful, warm and vivacious, the 27-year-old evidently provided Mickey with support and strength in his public role.

He would even fight his way towards her through the crowd before giving any post-match interviews.

And when Tyrone won the All-Ireland championship at Croke Park in 2003, 2005 and 2008, most newspapers showed a beaming Michaela beside him.

Irish Independent

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