SHE will never be forgotten. That’s how one Cookstown woman described the death of 27-year-old Michaela McAreavey on the day of her funeral.
Describing the Requiem Mass for the murdered bride, social worker Seana Murphy, 31, said: “It was a very dignified ceremony, and heart-warming to see what people thought of her.
“She will never be forgotten.”
When the people of Tyrone learned of Michaela’s death thousands of miles away in Mauritius, many were left in a state of shock, unable to accept that such a tragedy could happen to one of their own.
It made headline news across the world that a bride of 12 days was found dead in her hotel room on her honeymoon.
It has touched the hearts of many people, even those who did not know her have been left deeply affected by her untimely death.
People from different sections of the community have turned out to pay their respects, including politicians, celebrities and sporting heroes.
The Deputy First Minister expressed his shock at the sudden death of Michaela McAreavey.
Martin McGuinness said: “Just a matter of weeks ago it was a joyous occasion when Michaela married John (McAreavey) and no doubt they planned a long and happy life together.
“They had so much to live for but now their hopes have been cruelly dashed by the tragic death of Michaela.
“Michaela was always close to her father’s side during many great days for Tyrone football. Her enthusiasm for her native county, for which she was an excellent ambassador, knew no bounds.
“My thoughts and prayers are with her husband John, father Mickey, mother Marian and the entire Harte and McAreavey families at this difficult time.”
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams also expressed his “shock” at the news of the death of Michaela and has extended his deepest sympathy to the Harte and McAreavey families.
RTE personality Ryan Tubridy paid tribute to Michaela Harte, whom he met while hosting the Rose Of Tralee beauty pageant in 2004.
The ‘Late Late’ presenter described the stunning brunette, that year’s Ulster Rose, as one of the “warmest, kindest people” he had ever met.
Tubridy said: “I got such a shock when I heard this news because I remember Michaela so well from that year. I interviewed all the girls but Michaela stood out because of her easy-going manner. For that reason the Rose of Tralee was the perfect competition for her and she was the perfect Rose.”
Off-stage too, the ‘Late Late’ host had been impressed by the school teacher’s warmth and love of life.
“You see the girls during preparations and Michaela had been just as easy to talk to off-camera as on. It was a brief meeting at the festival but Michaela stood out as one of those people you have to say is a credit to their parents,” he added.
And the RTE presenter said Michaela’s father, Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte, who had been a constant at Michaela’s side throughout that festival, as she had been for him at GAA fixtures down through the years, was in his thoughts.
“They were inseparable at that Rose of Tralee, and certainly when I was interviewing and talking to her, Mickey was there too. They had an extraordinarily close relationship. I don’t know how her dad is going to cope with such a loss. I can’t imagine what her family are going through today. It’s just too awful. I just think what has happened is desperate. A life has been ended too abruptly,” the broadcaster added.
Kilkenny Rose Orla O’Shea, who went on to win the Rose of Tralee that year, described Michaela as “a true lady”.
The Tyrone GAA County Board issued a statement on their website expressing their condolences.
“The board is 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.”
SDLP deputy leader Patsy McGlone and MLA for Mid Ulster has said the Tyrone community as well as the wider GAA community is in deep shock following the death of Michaela Harte.
He said: “My sympathies and the sympathies of those I represent go to the Harte family and Michaela Harte’s new husband and his family.
“My thoughts and prayers and those of the party go towards the entire family circles and friends.Tyrone, the wider Mid Ulster community and the entire GAA family is in mourning.
“This is just heartbreaking news and it really has stunned the entire community, people are finding it very difficult to take in. It’s hard to put into words the outpouring of grief at hearing this awful news.”
Carole Vorderman also paid tribute to Mrs McAreavey. She posted on her Twitter page: “Hearts breaking for Michaela McAreavey’s husband and family today... buried at church where she married less than 3 weeks ago.Achingly sad x.”
Rory McIlroy also tweeted: “@McIlroyRory R.I.P Michaela Harte, strangled to death yesterday on honeymoon in Mauritius.”
First Minister Peter Robinson also paid tribute to Michaela in the Assembly on Monday past. He said: “As you know I am a father, I have a beautiful daughter of a similar age to Michaela. I love her to bits. It gives me a sense of the loss, but only a sense.
“For the reality is so much more painful, than the imaginary. Personally, as DUP leader, as First Minister, I want to convey the love, support and condolences of the whole community to the McAreavey and Harte families.”