The Harte family of Co Tyrone was dealt yet another blow yesterday with the death of Paddy Harte, brother of Mickey and uncle of Michaela McAreavey, who was murdered in Mauritius last month.
The Tyrone manager has now lost his only daughter and two brothers in a little over three months. His brother Peter, who served as president of the Ulster Council from 1980-1983 and was a former Tyrone senior footballer, died in late October.
Last night's McKenna Cup final match between Tyrone and Derry was postponed as a mark of respect.
The death of Paddy Harte came on the day that Michaela's father, Mickey, wrote movingly about the tragedy in Mauritius and his profound belief that her life was part of "God's bigger plan".
Mickey Harte said the murder had left his family and that of Michaela's husband John "totally devastated".
"If we attempt to put human logic on this awful event, then there are no answers," he wrote, "yet if we view this on a spiritual plane, the evidence is already abundant that Michaela is very much part of what she herself would have described as 'God's bigger plan'.
"During her short, fruitful life, she used this logic to encourage me when all-important football results didn't go my way."
Mickey said he would always remember the words she spoke on her wedding day to her new husband.
"When John entered Michaela's life some five years ago, her happiness accelerated at an unprecedented pace and, as she rightly acknowledged in her wedding speech, 'John made me a better person.'"
He added: "As in all true, loving relationships, John was able to assure Michaela that the feeling was mutual."
In his first column for the Irish News since the murder, he added: "We feel particularly for John, who had to deal with the most acute and traumatic elements of this tragedy initially on his own. Both families are convinced that it's only by the power of prayer and the presence of Michaela's spirit that we are able to function at all these last few weeks."
He said the families were drawing on the overwhelming support they had received from all over the world.
"The number of cards and letters we have received across the entire political and religious spectrum is now in the thousands and for that we are most appreciative. I will personally read every syllable over the coming months.
"I have already read more than a thousand of these messages of support and the fact that Michaela's principled lifestyle and deep faith has resonated with so many, from eight to 88, is very emotional yet very consoling."
Speaking of her devout faith, he said: "The fact that she was a committed pioneer and she was most conscious of the fact that for her, being a pioneer meant that she was not anti the use of alcohol, rather anti the abuse of it, resonated with many.
"I know she prayed on a daily basis for those who were experiencing such difficulties."