Condolances have poured in after Michaela Harte, the daughter of Mickey Harte, well known Tyrone Gaelic football team manager, was murdered on her honeymoon in Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Michaela (27) had only been married on 30th December to her husband John McAreavey, a Down Gaelic footballer, the wedding ceremony having been held in St Malachy’s Church, Ballymacilroy, near Ballygawley.
Now tragically she will be laid to rest there. Her death has stunned everyone across the isle of Ireland, and it is an enormous tragedy for the Harte family so much at the centre of the sporting life of their county.
Michaela and John had travelled to a luxury hotel in northern Mauritius, an Indian Ocean paradise, for their honeymoon. After an absence by Michaela of around 20 minutes on Monday afternoon, her husband John returned to their room to find her strangled and having been struck around the head. There were signs of a struggle. A hotel doctor was called but sadly it was too late for Michaela.
There was no indication of a robbery as it is understood that she may have distrurbed a burglar before he had a chance to remove any of their possessions. Hotel records indicate the room was entered by using a fake swipe card minutes before she returned. Police are currently investigating and two suspects have been identified by the Mauritian police as of late Tuesday evening.
In a deeply emotional statement from her father Michey Harte on BBC TV, he paid a loving tribute to Michaela saying his family enjoyed 27 beautiful years with her. But as media pressure through public interest on the murder has focused much on himself and his family, he bravely gave an interview in his time of great sorrow, asking for the press not to put John, still out in Mauritius, under any more pressure as he was there on his own with no family to support him at this time. He added that many other families have had to face tragedy and that “It is our day to bear this cross.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-12162235
Sports Minister Nelson McCausland has said he is deeply saddened by the death of Michaela McAreavey . He added, “I would like to express my deepest sympathy to Michaela’s husband John, and the wider family circle.
“It is heartbreaking for a family to lose a loved one at anytime but the circumstances make this loss even more difficult. My thoughts are with them at this sad time.”
The Down GAA has also made a statement ion its website saying, “Coiste Chontae An Dúin, and the family that is Down GAA express our deepest and heartfelt sympathy to John McAreavey and the entire McAreavey and Harte families on the untimely death of Michaela. We extend our sympathy to our fellow gaels in Tyrone on this sad occasion. Our thoughts and prayers are very much with John at this most difficult time and we offer him our full support.”
Tyrone GAA was also deeply shocked at Michaela’s death. She was the heart and soul of their Gaelic world and was much at her father’s side at moments when his county achieved sporting glory.
Michaela was much loved by all Gaels across Tyrone. A statement from the Tyrone GAA County Board said, “We are shocked and greatly saddened to learn of the sudden death of Michaela, only daughter of our senior football team manager Mickey Harte, while on honeymoon in Mauritius.
“Michaela and indeed the wider Harte family of Marian, Mark, Michael and Matthew have been very closely associated with the present senior football team since Mickey took over as Tyrone minor manager in 1991.
“It is difficult for us to comprehend the devastation that her new husband John and the Harte family must be feeling at this time. This tragedy will be sorely felt throughout the Tyrone GAA family and on behalf of our players, officials and members in Tyrone, and around the world we wish to express our deepest sympathy to John, Mickey, Marian, Mark, Michael and Matthew.
“Tá muid buartha faoi bás, Michaela, iníon Mickey agus Marian.
Go mbeidh na h-Aingeail sna Flaithís ag fanacht lei.
Ar lámh dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam uasal.”
SDLP Leader Margaret Ritchie MP has expressed her sympathy to family of Michaela Harte, daughter of Tyrone GAA boss Mickey Harte who has died while on honeymoon in Mauritius with Down footballer John McAreavey who she married on 30th December.
She said, “I am deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of Michaela Harte, daughter of Tyrone Gaelic football manager Mickey Harte.
“To lose a child in any circumstances is upsetting but for her life to be cut short while on honeymoon and at such a young age is so very sad.
“On behalf of the SDLP I wish to offer my sincerest condolences to the Harte and McAreavey families, Michaela’s husband John and their wider circle of family and friends.”
SDLP Omagh District Councillor Seamus Shields, a native of Ballygawley and a close personal friend of the Harte family, has said the entire community held Michaela McAreavey in the highest possible regard, adding that the family was synonymous with all that is good in the local community.
Mr Shields said: “First and foremost, I would like to express my shock and deepest condolences. I have spoken to many people from the parish since I heard the news and many people have contacted me because we are all feeling the same sense of shock and loss.
“Our families have very close connections going back generations, everybody in the area knows and looks up to the Harte family. I was absolutely delighted with the news that Michaela was getting married in December. My own daughter got married a couple of weeks before her and the Harte boys were guests. They are a family that take great pride in their neighbourhood.
“Michaela’s grandfather Pat lives in the next townland to me and my thoughts are very much with him as well. On behalf of my community and everybody who has contacted me to pass on their regrets to the Harte, Donnelly and McAreavey families, I offer my deepest, deepest sympathies.
“The shock and the circumstances are numbing and we have to hope that the family can deal with this enormous tragedy with their faith, family and community.
“Everybody knew and admired Michaela. Her family are synonymous with all that’s good in the local community. They are a source of much pride in the Errigal Ciaran parish. I have no doubt the community will rally round and support the family.”
Sinn Féin South Down Assembly Member Councillor Willie Clarke also offered condolence to the Harte and McAreavey family circles. He said, “My sincere sympathy goes out to the Harte and McAreavey families at this painful time. Michaela had everything to live for; so many opportunities lay ahead for John and Michaela. To have them so tragically taken away is heartbreaking.
“It is unimaginable that just a week ago the couple were experiencing the love and happiness of their wedding day.
“My sincere condolences go out to the entire Harte and McAreavey family circles and friends and I will keep them in my thoughts and prayers at this very difficult time.
Alliance Culture, Arts and Leisure Spokesperson Kieran McCarthy MLA has expressed his deepest sympathies to the families following the death of Michaela Harte.
He said, “This is absolutely tragic news and my thoughts are with both families as they try to come to terms with what has happened.
“You simply cannot begin to imagine how devastating this must be for the families. For parents to hear what has happened to their daughter on honeymoon, so far away from home, must have been unbearable. This was meant to be one of the most joyous times in anyone’s life and for this to happen is beyond belief.
“Michaela was a friendly and familiar face who was never far from her dad at any Tyrone matches. She will be very much missed and everyone in Tyrone and across Northern Ireland is in shock at present.”