Heartbroken gaelic football manager Mickey Harte helped shoulder the coffin as thousands of people joined the funeral cortege for his murdered newlywed daughter today.
One of the North's busiest roads was blocked to all traffic as mourners made their way to St Malachy’s church outside Ballygawley where Michaela McAreavey, 27, was buried in her wedding dress.
President Mary McAleese was among those who attended the funeral of Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte’s daughter. Many others followed the cortege from the family home in bright winter sunshine.
It was one of the biggest funerals in the North for several years, with political and community representatives from all sides attending.
The roads were lined with hundreds of GAA fans and friends of the young Irish language teacher who was strangled in her honeymoon suite in Mauritius a week ago – just days after she was married in the same church where Requiem Mass was held today.
Her widower John, parents Mickey and Marian, and brothers Mark, Michael and Mattie have been devastated by the death. Mr McAreavey and Mr Harte carried the coffin in sombre silence.
Tyrone senior gaelic football team members and local club Errigal Ciaran, which Mr Harte used to manage, provided a guard of honour from her parents’ home to the church. On arrival, another guard of honour was provided by Mr McAreavy’s local football club, Tullylish in Co Down, and Mrs McAreavey’s form class at St Patrick’s Academy in Dungannon.
Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Sean Brady presided over the Mass.
Mourners heard about the couple's deep abiding love for each other.
Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey, the groom’s uncle, said they lived for one another and supported each other. Their lives revolved around one another and each talked endlessly about the other.
He told mourners inside the packed church: “Their hopes for the future were bound up with each other.”
He said an evil act had ended Mrs McAreavey’s young life and robbed Mr McAreavey of a beautiful wife.
It deprived the Harte family of a precious daughter and sister and the McAreavey family of a daughter-in-law they looked forward to having. It had shattered hopes and dreams for the future.
The bishop said: “Even those of us who are older and who have had some experience of tragedy have been shaken to the core by what has happened. We are still in a state of shock.”
A number of symbols were presented at the start of the Mass by members of Mrs McAreavey's family.
They included a family photograph representing her love of family, the source of her truth, integrity and devotion.
Prayer was a part of daily life and rosary beads symbolised her deep faith.
From an early age the Irish teacher held a great love of the language and that was shown by the fainne, an emblem worn by people who speak Irish. That led her to touch young minds and hearts.
The pioneer pin of somebody who does not drink alcohol on religious grounds reflected Mrs McAreavey’s Catholic faith in action.
She was the Ulster Rose in the Rose of Tralee beauty contest in 2004 and the flower was presented as a symbol of beauty and love.