herald

Saturday 19 January 2019

Sinead Ryan: Radiant on her happiest day - how Mickey and Marian will forever remember their little jewel

She was what you might call the Perfect Daughter.

Not in a schmaltzy, sentimental way, but in a live, vibrant, whole-hearted way.

Mickey and Marian Harte had been blessed with three boys, but in a way only fathers of daughters can understand, that made Michaela more special.

"She's my little jewel," he would tell friends.

And as gems go, Michaela it seems, was a diamond.

Indeed you can see her father Mickey's careful hand in her upbringing -- an old fashioned yet thoroughly modern relationship.

A girly-girl yet a tomboy. She would be beside him at each of the three All Ireland wins Mickey Harte brought to Tyrone.

Indeed, according to journalist Adrian Logan: "He refused to do any post-match interviews after those games until she stood beside him. She was his number one fan". And he hers.

The former Irish teacher and Rose of Tralee contestant -- a lovely girl in the real down-to-earth meaning of the word is dead.

Her parents Mickey and Marian, having done their job brilliantly for 27 years, made the final act all parents both wish and dread: they gave her away to start her new life as a married woman to, naturally, a footballer, John McAreavey.

A winter-white wedding on the penultimate day of the year, how proud must Mickey have been walking his 'jewel' down the aisle.



LAUGHTER

A happy, happy day, but what he is most likely to remember is that tragically, it was he who drove the couple to the airport to begin their honeymoon and fateful, final journey.

We don't know what happened -- how Michaela lost her life -- and for Mickey and Marian, even this greatest of questions doesn't really matter. Their beautiful vibrant jewel in the crown is gone forever. Being so far away, in one of the most beautiful places in the world makes it so much harder.

One of the first things a couple does when they return from honeymoon is to collect their wedding pictures and maybe the video of their wedding.

It can be a funny, hilarious, embarrassing and cringey thing to set up the DVD and sit around it -- hooting with laughter at the funny bits, crying at the speeches and generally remembering the very best day of your life.

Michaela will never get to do that. Those pictures and images will remain, for her family, the last heartbreaking ones they will ever have.

And how fitting, sad as it will be to look at them, that they are of a radiant, gorgeous girl looking her best on the most important day of her life, smiling and beautiful, which is precisely how they will remember her forever.

She was an ambassador for football, her county and her family. Michaela, rest in peace.

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