It has been difficult to find the right words following the recent tragic events that unfolded in Mauritius,writes Damien Donnelly.
Attending the wake and funeral of Michaela McAreavey(nee Harte) earlier this week brought home the reality and pain that we all feel but that the Harte and McAreavey families feel multiple times over.
Our own family has known the Hartes for a long time, my brother Tony’s friendship with Mickey providing an abiding link between the two clans.
On behalf of all at Team Talk and my own family circle, I want to express deepest condolences to both the Harte and McAreavey families.
My Mum recalls with fondness Mickey and Marian bringing Michaela as a youngster to visit our home house where the pride in their faces said everything that needed to be said.
Memories unfolded later of Michaela as a young pupil at Glencull St Malachy’s when I started out taking photographs around the area within a media capacity.
Time passed and Michaela grew up into a wonderful person. She held dear certain principles but never judged people with different views. The way she conducted herself and her life should be a glowing example to people of all generations and beliefs.
She became part of the fabric and part of the imagery that captured her Dad’s management career at every level. But she was no fair weather supporter. Michaela was there in the tough times as well as the good times.
Teacher training plus an endearing affiliation with the Irish language led Michaela to teach Irish and RE Studies. Lovely comments from her students stressed how she inspired them and gave them more confidence.
Michaela also represented Ulster with great grace in the 2004 Rose of Tralee Festival. To see Rose of Tralee people from seven years ago in tears at the funeral revealed a friendship that clearly lasted long beyond the realms of the competition.
Michaela’s engaging personality, love of family and friends plus strong faith shone through like bright beacons. Michaela helped show that it was cool to be religious and cool to be a pioneer. These are significant, challenging life choices not easy to make in the modern world. Michaela not only made such choices but followed them through with wit, charm, honesty and humility.
An important testimony of any person is being able to share a smile and chat no matter where you might meet them. Michaela could do just that.
As anybody who has ever lifted a camera will tell you the key to a good picture is a good subject, Michaela’s enchanting smile being the stuff of dreams for photographers.
Many happy pictures were taken in happy times over the past number of years but many were published recently in terribly sad circumstances. Yet, such photos tell a special story of a special girl that words would struggle to express and these images immortalise a precious legacy that no subsequent event, however tragic, can ever erase.
Michaela’s sweet spirit and soul will always be with the Harte and McAreavey families. She will still inspire them, still guide them and still make them smile amid the tears.
To Michaela’s parents Marian and Mickey, brothers Mark, Michael and Matthew, husband John, wider family circle and all her friends, deepest sympathy and sincere prayers are offered.
Thanks for the marvellous memories Michaela and may you rest in the eternal peace of God.