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Michaela mourned year after honeymoon tragedy

HEARTBROKEN John McAreavey will return to the church where he married his childhood sweetheart on the first anniversary of her death.

Michaela, the daughter of Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte, was strangled while on honeymoon in Mauritius with her new husband on January 10 last year.

An anniversary Mass has been organised for the late teacher in her local church, Ballymacilroy, where the couple married on December 30, 2010.

The GAA community in Co Tyrone is expected to turn out to show solidarity with Mickey Harte and his son-in-law John for the Mass next Friday at 8pm.

Mickey Harte described his daughter's wedding day as "one of the best days" of his life in a weekly newspaper column when the wedding anniversary passed last week.

"I cannot relive that memorable day on this, their first wedding anniversary, with our beautiful daughter Michaela and the young man, John McAreavey, whom she was so proud to have committed her life to in the sacrament of marriage on that crisp December day," he revealed in the 'Irish News'.

He described how he had never seen a bride "radiate with such exuberance" and said he felt "giddy excitement" running through Michaela's veins as she "sensed the reality of what she was about to embark upon".

"For us as a family, Michaela was surely a blessing from God," he said.

The devastated father revealed how texts, phone calls and emails had flowed from Michaela and John during the first stage of their honeymoon in Dubai.

He added: "The next phase of the honeymoon would take them to Mauritius and, in only their third day there, the joy, the happiness, the excitement and the sheer bliss they had been experiencing from that wonderful December day was in an instant replaced... by despair."

Last month, John McAreavey expressed thanks to his club members in Tullylish for helping him cope following the tragedy of his wife's murder. He said he had been overwhelmed by the support shown to him.

"My own club, Tullylish, have been great in treating me exactly the same way as before the tragedy, with my team-mates insisting not to spare me from the 'slagging banter' at training and matches," he said.

Two people were formally charged with Michaela's murder last month in Mauritius and a date for the trial is expected to be fixed shortly.

Irish Independent