John McAreavey yesterday spoke of the special bond he still feels with his murdered bride, Michaela, and how the couple formed an instant attraction to one another when they met in 2005.
Michaela’s father, Mickey Harte, also revealed how his daughter, as a young GAA fan, had predicted that Tyrone would win the All-Ireland football final five years before it happened.
John, a well-known GAA player, also spoke of how working with a foundation set up to celebrate Michaela’s life helps him cope with her murder.
The bereaved men spoke of their enduring sense of loss and how they joined forces with the GAA to arrange Match For Michaela: A Festival With Football, which will raise funds for her foundation.
The game, on Nov 3 at Casement Park in west Belfast, will see All-Ireland champions Donegal take on an inter-provincial Ulster selection.
Mickey said he was delighted the Ulster Council of the GAA came on board to host this game.
John spoke about the values underpinning the Michaela Foundation, which has been set up to help young people.
“Our motto is ‘life without limits’ and it is to honour the values that Michaela lived by,” said John, speaking to Ray D’Arcy on Today FM.
“She was a teacher and loved young people, so this will celebrate Irish culture and language and her faith, but also girlie things like fashion.”
John said helping to set up the foundation has been a help to him as he grieves for his wife.
“You have to try and do something, and remembering Michaela in this way has been good for me, personally.”
Recalling the time they met while he was in Queen’s University in Belfast and Michaela was studying to be a primary teacher, John said: “There was something special straight away and weinstantly struck it off.
“It was a very exciting and magical time. Me and Michaela had a very special relationship and we were very content with one another.
“She is very much still with me. I have brilliant, cherished memories and that is what keeps me going and gives me the passion for the Michaela Foundation.”
Mickey said he and his daughter had a very special relationship and he recalled her disappointment when Tyrone lost an All-Ireland minor football title in 1997. “She wrote down on a napkin that Tyrone would win a minor All-Ireland by 1998 and the Sam Maguire by 2003.” Both predictions came true.
“Things don’t always turn out they way you want them to,” said Mickey, who said the family’s determination to live life to the full did not mean they did not have moments when their grief overwhelmed them. “Our strength comes from her. It doesn’t mean we don’t cry. Of course we do, but we try to live again and to laugh again.”
In a poignant reflection, he spoke of how his wife, Marian, could not imagine having never had Michaela.
“To never have had her would have meant we would not have endured the pain of losing her, but then we would not have had such a precious gift in our lives without her,” he said.
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