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Thursday 14 December 2017

How John rebuilt his life and learned to love again after loss of Michaela

Five years after the death of Michaela, John McAreavey has found happiness again, writes Nicola Anderson

John McAreavey and Tara Brennan, who married in a private ceremony
John McAreavey and Tara Brennan, who married in a private ceremony
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

'Five years after the murder of Michaela Harte, John McAreavey marries again' - proclaimed the headline on a news site in Mauritius. The names needed no explanation, being as familiar on the Indian Ocean island as they are at home.

"It's a case of rebuilding your life," a devastated John McAreavey told the state prosecutor in Mauritius during the 2012 trial, which ultimately failed to convict anyone over the brutal slaying of Michaela, his bride of just 11 days.

John and Tara at a charity event
John and Tara at a charity event

"It's extremely, extremely hard. Everything was finished on that day. Everything was destroyed - our dreams were destroyed, the dreams of our children," he said, amid the silence of a ramshackle courtroom in Mauritius.

The death of his first love on honeymoon in January 2011, when Michaela's lifeless body was discovered in the bath of their hotel room; the subsequent hardship of the trial, with its bitter failure to get justice for Michaela; and the heartbreak of finding out that photographs of his wife's dead body were plastered over the front page of a leading newspaper in Mauritius have been a heavy cross to bear.

But five years on from Michaela's tragic death, the former GAA player has found happiness in his life once again.

John (34) and fellow accountant Tara Brennan, from Maynooth, Co Kildare, quietly exchanged vows earlier this month in private a ceremony believed to have taken place near Slane, Co Meath, with just a few friends and family.

A family photo of John with Michaela Harte outside Notre Dame in Paris Photo: McAreavey Family handout/PA Wire
A family photo of John with Michaela Harte outside Notre Dame in Paris Photo: McAreavey Family handout/PA Wire

The couple were reported to have honeymooned in Spain, where they walked the popular pilgrimage route, Camino de Santiago de Compestela.

They became engaged last October to the joy of family and friends - and the blessing and support of his late bride's parents, Mickey and Marian Harte.

It emerged that John and Tara were a couple in January 2014 - though it seems a friendship first blossomed after a friend introduced them on a night out in Dublin a year earlier.

They holidayed together in New York wher e they watched an NBA basketball game and he took her to a friend's wedding in Belfast. The couple have regularly taken part in various charity events, including a fundraiser for Pieta House, a suicide crisis centre, and Team Hope Ireland, while she works alongside him at the Michaela Foundation to support youngsters.

Last October, the happy couple confirmed their commitment when Tara was spotted with a diamond ring on her wedding finger at the premiere of the James Bond movie 'Spectre' in Belfast.

Their wedding earlier this month was low-key, with John subsequently posting a bridal photo of the happy couple on his Facebook page, captioned with a love heart.

Last March, John gave an impassioned address to a congregation of more than 1,000 people at the Knock Shrine in Co Mayo, in which he revealed that it was only in the last year or two that he had managed to rediscover the faith and energy in his life and to see that the world is a beautiful place.

"And coming from a situation where everything was dark and gloomy, with no light, it is a wonderful thing for me to be able to say that I am able to love again," he said.

"My fiancée Tara has shown me the beauty of life again, all the good things about life and what I have learned is that I am able to deal with anything that life puts in front of me because I know that I will always have God at my side."

Mr McAreavey said that the murder of his wife was extremely difficult to deal with but that his Catholic faith was the key instrument in him coming to terms with it.

"I do not want to be identified as a victim, a 'poor me' complex or to be seen as seeking sympathy," he said.

"For me, 'poor tragic husband, the man whose wife was murdered on their honeymoon', that description does not say who I am or what I do.

"I am a strong, confident person, full of love and integrity and other positive traits and this is how I identify myself.

"There was the pain of losing a loved one in such a cruel and tragic manner, then the injustice in the aftermath of that time.

"And I admit that there were times when there really was no hope left in my life and I could no longer bear such a heavy cross.

"When something like that happens, we can either react with bitterness or seek to transform suffering into a creative force and I decided to choose the latter," he said.

Irish Independent

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