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Saturday 20 January 2018

Devoted husband helped set up charity to celebrate her life

Edel Kennedy

JOHN McAreavey and Michaela Harte had many things in common but football was the first connection they made.

Friends said that on the first night the pair met they bonded over their shared love of GAA. Originally from Tullylish in Co Down, John is son to Brendan and Tish and has three siblings -- Claire, Anne and Brian.

He was a member of the local GAA team and trained regularly with his childhood friends.

When he met his future wife, John was studying Business Management at Queen's University and he went on to become a chartered accountant.

While he previously worked with a private company, he has since moved to work at the successful family business, Clearhill.

Run by his father Brendan, his brother Brian is a director of the company while John is financial controller.

Friends said the 27-year-old has always been close to his family -- but the awful tragedy of losing his wife has brought them even closer. And now that he is working in the family business, he spends even more time with his parents and siblings.

"We've dealt with him a good bit and he's such a hard worker," said one client.

"But sometimes he has a sad air about him because of this huge burden he's carrying. He doesn't talk about it but you feel he's carrying it around with him all the time, which is understandable."

John has also thrown himself back into playing GAA and has spoken of how it has become his saviour during the "very long and hard road" that is in front of him. "I have come to notice how remarkably peaceful it is to kick a ball around the field with my friends," he said.

John -- like Michaela -- has a strong religious faith.

Both he and Michaela's father, Mickey Harte, travelled to Limerick in April 2011 to hear the Dalai Lama speak of compassion and peace.

The two men have since set up a foundation in Michaela's memory to help promote the values she espoused.

The foundation makes annual awards to those studying the Irish language and religious education.

Its motto is "life without limits" -- a motto he said sums up the attitude of his late wife, someone who was "full of life and full of happiness".

Mickey Harte has said he hopes John will find new love and remarry in the future.

"That would make me happy," he said.

"That would make Michaela happy."

Irish Independent

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