My heart is bleeding for them and to see Michaela in that coffin in there really does make you want to ask, “Is there a God at all? But our hearts and our prayers are with them. That’s all we can offer them now – our support … there will be lonely days ahead when all the crowds leave but the community here in Ballygawley and throughout Tyrone will never abandon them – words of a visitor to the home of Mickey Harte.

There are some losses that don’t bear thinking about. The death of a child must top them all. What trauma and despair Mickey Harte is undergoing due to losing his only daughter – his daddy’s girl - can only be guessed at. Those of us fortunate to have our own ‘daddy’s girl’ can only shudder. While we might on numerous occasions have swapped our shoes to walk a mile in Mickey Harte’s, this is not one of them. We want his hand but not his heart, it being much too heavy to carry. Despite the steely spirit forged throughout his career as Tyrone manager, there is nothing in that experience which could have prepared him for the tragedy that so shockingly befell him and his grief stricken family.

A while back I found myself writing about Mickey Harte’s religious faith. He had just survived a car crash and had put it down to divine intervention. Firmly atheist, I found the idea of a divine hand at work not remotely plausible. As an explanation it invited more questions than it provided answers. When I learned of the death – later found to be the result of murder – of Michaela Harte, the notion of gods or the lack of them didn’t enter my head. In a mind occupied by sorrow there was little room for mulling over philosophical questions of suffering and claims about the power of prayer. If prayers bring comfort and consolation to Mickey Harte and his family then prayer has a power which has to be acknowledged. That I might firmly believe it is a psychological power and not a spiritual one is a discussion for another day.

Mickey Harte is a nationally renowned figure because of his achievements in the world of sport. I am not a GAA fan but even with no great devotion to gaelic football it was impossible not to have been impressed with the Tyrone manager’s outstanding ability and motivational persona. His repeat performances in bringing the Sam Maguire to Tyrone were a novel feature of our modern sporting era. Northern teams just didn’t do that. Tyrone’s dominance in the tournament reconfigured the gaelic football sporting map in the country. The North no longer looked the outpost, but the hub. Kerry had been eclipsed and Tyrone was the new kingdom.

The death of Michaela Harte was the subject of conversation almost everywhere I went. On an early morning train a few days back a man I had never met called over ‘it was murder.’ He had just heard it on his wireless set and announced it to the rest of the carriage. Others joined in the conversation.

As Michaela Harte gets laid to rest tomorrow from the chapel where she was married just three weeks ago the prayers of those who religiously believe, and the thoughts of those who do not, will be with Mickey Harte and his family. From lifting a cup to lifting a coffin, the journey from uplifting joy to unimaginable grief is just a short but horrendous step. None of us ever want to follow in those footsteps.


  1. Anthony:

    My heart just breaks, and breaks again, for the Harte & McAreavey families and all those who knew and loved Michaela. There are no words...keeping them all in my thoughts and prayers. RIP Michaela

  2. Michaela Harte--RIP.
    I remember the door getting knocked in North Belfast, by two RUC constables, early in the morning in 1989.
    They arrived not to raid or search, unusual.
    They came to a very republican home, to break the news that a son, daughter-in law and a grand child, had been killed in a car crash.
    IT always stuck by me, that when they left, my father was very concerned about them, ie: what a terrible job for anyone, ie; to have to break such news, to a mother and father.
    My dad, very very republican, taught me a lesson, in humanity and in that he was"nt sectarian..
    The thing that got me the most was my parents coming to the terms, that in some caes you dont go (die) before some of your children. Some times,,
    Luckily in our families case, it was"nt murder...there for the grace of god goes I..
    I think if god is your Rock, go for it.... Im in that boat....
    At the very least, even if you believe there is"nt a god, then it must be a very lonely place when your last days are coming...
    Live and let live... But I have comfort, in that Michaela had comfort in the pioneer pin and rosary beads and her faith...RIP

  3. Mackers,
    I don't think anything prepares a parent for this. It is almost surreal to think that a beautiful life and an entire family can be crushed by a horrible twist of fate.
    Sometimes in the darkest corners of despair a little ray of hope gets through. I hope this is the case for these families in the long days ahead.

  4. Whilst having all sympathy for the girl and her family, is this not becoming like a Lady Di thig? Does this issue merit the media coverage?
    Get real.

  5. Nothin to do with the Harte family personally, but i remember when guys on hungerstrike layin in shite asked the GAA for official suport it was refused. GAA cunts in my local boozer who looked down ther nose at me when pinting had the audacity to tell me 'somethin needs to be done' when catholics were murdered. No offence to the family, FUK the GAA.
    get ur noses outa ther crotch.

  6. I just came on here to read the moving tribute of Anthony to be confronted by this.

    "Whilst having all sympathy for the girl and her family, is this not becoming like a Lady Di thig? Does this issue merit the media coverage?
    Get real."

    I am preparing to go to the funeral tomorrow and am speechless. We are all heart-broken here in Tyrone.

    I am disgusted at this comment.

    You can attack me all you like, Larry, but you are one hell of a low-life for writing that!

    If I were you I would stay well clear of Tyrone! You would be lynched!

  7. John
    settle yer wee head. my attitude to the GAA and my thinking that the amount of media coverage on the poor unfortunate girls murder being excessive has nothing to do with the family.

    It's like a state funeral. For goodness sake. Things should be put in perspective.

    you twist things as you wish. Like your postings on the priests issue.
    i'm sure not everyone in tyrone is a GAA fan either, nor you a spokesman for the population there. i'll travel and sleep in comfort, thank you.

  8. The loss of a loved one is always a difficult burden to bear and in such dreadful circumstances it must be the stuff of nightmares,so whatever or however those who have to carry this burden find solace,then I hope it works for them.

  9. Larry Hughes
    I can only think of 2 words to describe you “cold hearted “What your reason for dishing out such and attack on an innocent young daughter because of her connections with the GAA is beyond belief , because GAA people did not support you and your beliefs does not warrant an attack of this nature .
    At this point I am not prepared for an argument with you or your kind .Having read most of your posts on here I had you down as a reasonable person with feelings for the rest of mankind but alas my assumption was wrong , maybe you should now consider removing your offensive post and if not maybe The Pensive Quill should take a stand and remove it for you

  10. interested
    my comments should not have been posted after watching two soccer games on the 'hooch'. yes my views seem harsh and badly expressed. OTT and in the wrong place. I asked mackers to consider not publishing it, but it had been placed already. Again, you're accusing me of attacking the girl, i dont know her or her family. Probably like 80% of those at her funeral, including the media.
    my views on the GAA remain, but should not have been expressed here, i regret the posting, not my views.
    im not going to elaborate further, the mistake was made.

  11. Larry,

    "GAA cunts .... No offence to the family, FUK the GAA.
    get ur noses outa ther crotch."

    Just when I think I have seen the depths of your depravity, Larry, sure enough you stoop lower.

    "i'm sure not everyone in tyrone is a GAA fan either"

    No the Orange Order and the planters and west Brits support English soccer teams.

    Have I ever met a Tyrone nationalist/Republican who does not support the GAA? NO!

  12. Interested,

    TPQ will not be removing the posts from Larry. It takes a stand against censorship not for it. Freedom of speech is worth standing up for; crass comments will not be removed. Having said that I think Larry has achieved nothing by posting as he did. I am very disappointed in what he said. It would be helpful if those who wish to comment would keep in mind there is a time and a place. An obituary, similar to a graveside, is not the place to be venting spleen. There are so many other venues for it.

  13. Fergal

    By any chance was he from Newington as if I recall it was a tragic accident a day or two before St. Pats day?

  14. Larry,

    as you are aware there is a facility for all who comment to remove their comments. It is not the task of TPQ to delete the comments that people post. If they are libellous they will not go up to begin with. If they are odious they go ahead. It doesn't mean we like them. People are expected to be civil rather than nasty, self-restrained rather than self-censored. The blog is a discussion board, not a graffiti wall, and graffiti should not go up on it. But those who post are adults and it is not our task to do anything other than ask them if they think it is prudent to go about things in the way that they do. I think your comments were not measured and were gratuitously upsetting to many people.

    Relatives of the deceased do read these things and it must be sore to read some of the things that get written. But we are not going to police them or remove them. The people on the blog who you annoy are adult enough to get on with their own projects.

    It is probably best not to post while on the hooch. But Alfie did it and managed to behave impeccably. But we are not going to hooch-watch.

    Few would piss at gravesides. I don’t think they should piss on obituaries. They can disagree with what is written but even in disagreement there is a right way and a wrong way, to paraphrase Camus.

    I hope this is the end of it. We don't want to be going back to it a third time.

  15. Martydownunder yes mo cara Mary Kennedy has passed on, Marie is down at the wake house at this very moment.

  16. Was at Michaela's funeral to-day
    notice that john Mcgirr also said that he was going

    The worst thing about living is hearing about tragedy's which happen to people- RIP

  17. I just watched her funeral, her husband and parents and the rest of the family just looked broken.
    I think at times like this, we should consider ourselves more than a little fortunate.

  18. Another of The Dogs gone Marty, don't make them like that anymore. I trust she will have a fitting send off.

  19. A terrible thing happened to Michaela Harte, and I am sorry for her and for her family. I don't want to cause further upset, but I'd like to say a couple of things about what Larry wrote. Though he should have worded his remarks more sensitively and posted his splenetic anti-GAA rant elsewhere, Larry does have a point. As Vincent Browne observed, a young mother was murdered in Limerick last Sunday week and no one really gave a damn. Why is her murder any less tragic than Michaela's? Yes, Larry's tone was nasty and cold-hearted, but I was troubled as much by Interested's call for him to be censored as by what he wrote.

    Furthermore, unless one knew Michaela or knows the Harte family, I really don't think it is appropriate to turn up to the funeral. When I lost members of my family, I did not want people who barely knew me or my family coming up and shaking my hand. But that's just me.

    Finally, let me say say that, though I do not share it, I hope the Harte family's Catholic faith gives them some solace amidst their terrible grief. I imagine that this is what Michaela would have wanted.

  20. michaelhenry,

    "Was at Michaela's funeral to-day
    notice that john Mcgirr also said that he was going"

    It was one of the saddest funerals I was ever at. Poor Mickey Harte looked in a terrible state.

    A tragic loss of a true Irish Gael. May she rest in peace!

  21. "Furthermore, unless one knew Michaela or knows the Harte family, I really don't think it is appropriate to turn up to the funeral. When I lost members of my family, I did not want people who barely knew me or my family coming up and shaking my hand. But that's just me."

    Michaela, Like Mickey had a wide circle of friends. I can't be sure, but I would imagine that 95% of those in attendance knew her or her father in one capacity or another.

    I am afraid this blog is going downhill in my estimation. I thought this would stop with AM's intervention.

  22. John,

    this is the type of problem that makes its way into blogs. Although Alfie's point is worthy and does not detract from the blog. But a few minutes ago I had to reject two pieces of absolute gibberish. I don't have the time to read though nonsense. They can sing in pubs if they want.

    We don't want ot be policing any discussion but we are not offering a wall for any one to scrawl on.

  23. Alfie I couldnt agree more,and today I reflected on another beautiful girl who was murdered in 1972 a totaly innocent young woman murdered for nothing more than she came from the wrong side,she was a friend of mine and I still carry anger at the brutal and senseless waste of her life,so as Anthony has said I may or will vent my spleen at a later date and on another post more befitting, Martydownunder Mary will have the send off she deserves,the D,COMP flag ,gloves and beret are on her coffin as I post mo cara...

  24. Had not heard about this monstrous crime until reading your piece. I sure hope Mauritius has the death penalty, these 3 vermin deserve nothing less.

  25. Ryan,

    "Had not heard about this monstrous crime until reading your piece. I sure hope Mauritius has the death penalty, these 3 vermin deserve nothing less."

    Unfortunately it does not.
    In fact it seems more and more likey that they will reduce the charge of murder to manslaughter.

    I got a comment earlier from an American friend:

    "sad, hang em high, Texan style."

    I would agree with that!

  26. Larry /Alfie/AM
    I would like to apologise to you all for daring to suggest that anyone should be censored on this blog or for that matter from any type of media , censorship normally has the opposite effect which means that what completely offends will get more recognition .
    My thoughts at the time were completely and utterly with the Harte Family and the written word by AM was excellent, and then I was confronted by a post which I did not agree.
    Next time I will stop and think about others feelings whom disagree with the handling of such a tragedy and that we live in a world of different opinions .

  27. Interested,

    worry not about it. We all slip off whatever path we are on. It is how we respond to the nudge to get us back on that matters. Thought yours was admirable. End of matter

  28. interested
    you were correct, my post was OTT and ill considered. i attempted to intercept it but was too late.

    hang em high texas style? i'm assuming you're NOT refering to RC priests who rape children there? need i even discuss you introverted little catholic irelander mindset? shocker.

  29. I disagree with the death penalty. You can not have justice without miscarriages of justice. What happens when innocent people are executed?

    The Birmingham Six would probably have been sentenced to death had the UK had the death penalty. Gregory Campbell said recently that they would have got off on appeal. What happens if you are dead before new evidence comes to light and an appeal is possible?

    I am not equating political violence with criminal violence but I am sure most governments would.

  30. Simon,

    You have raised some valid objections. I can only say theoretically that I am not oppposed to the death penalty and believe it is, at times the best option.

    In practice, however, I would certainly not support its use against non criminals, or indeed, if there were anything other than100% certainty as to the perpetrator.

  31. john
    100% certain..pre or post evidence being heard.

    justice systems are not safe enough. Police can be rotten, desperate for convictions. Tensions can run high even from great distances and predjudices blinding.

    Death penaly is a bad idea.

  32. In practice many people think "a crime is a crime is a crime". I imagine many countries who have the death penalty treat political prisoners the same as criminal ones. Many would treat Prisoners of Conscience, that is non-violent political offenders, differently but that isn't always the case.

    As for criminal offenders there is never such a thing as 100% guilt because you can never be absolutely sure about corruption, missing evidence, insanity, mitigating factors, false confessions or chance. As I said in every system of justice there are miscarriages of justice.

    The only way anybody is ever 100% sure of guilt is if they, themselves, did the crime and even then they mightn't be aware of circumstances such as some of those above.

    It is impossible to have justice without miscarriage of justice and knowing someone is 100% guilty is impossible. There is always room for doubt. If that doubt is not reasonable then at least, when convicted, the prisoner has the chance of an appeal. There is no going back from death.

  33. This post is about the death of a young woman an obituary to a life lost I suggest we take this discussion on the death penalty to another post I suggest the post on pervie priests would be more fitting.

  34. Alfie,

    ‘a young mother was murdered in Limerick last Sunday week and no one really gave a damn. Why is her murder any less tragic than Michaela's?’

    I don’t think it is. But there are some things that catch the imagination in a way that others do not. In Michaela’s, the circumstances of the honeymoon, the public identification with her father – these go some way to explaining the interest. Just like child deaths. Many children die violently at the hands of brutal parents of guardians but not all get the coverage of Baby P. He got much more coverage than children in similar circumstances.