Heartbroken Gaelic football manager Mickey Harte was profoundly moved today during an emotional gathering with the Dalai Lama, he revealed.
The Tyrone boss, whose daughter Michaela was murdered on honeymoon in January, and his grieving son-in-law John McAreavey made a 700km round trip to see the Tibetan spiritual leader in Limerick.
“We wanted to be here, we had the opportunity to be here and we’re grateful for opportunity,” he said.
“We hoped we would find something of value and we have.”
The pair joined more than 3,000 people who packed into the University of Limerick’s sports arena to hear the exiled Nobel peace laureate on the final day of his two-day Irish visit.
Mary and Anthony Geoghegan, the mother and brother of murdered rugby captain Shane Geoghegan, former rugby international Keith Wood and former Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray were among them.
A devastated Mr Harte, who also lost two brothers over the past six months, described the 76-year-old world leader’s talk about compassion and forgiveness as a very personal experience.
“That’s a real strong message for anybody, of the value and power of forgiveness,” he said.
“Not every one of us can take that on board to that extent, but there is a certain lesson there for us to aspire to.”
Speaking about his own personal torment, he said: “Every day is emotional.”
Mr Harte, known for his deep spirituality, said he had taken a lot from the Dalai Lama.
“He’s a special man and the simplicity of his message is profound,” he said.
“Maybe that’s what we ought to look for – the simple things in life. That’s where real value lies and I think we all learnt that today.”
In his first visit to Ireland in two decades, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, delivered an address on the power of forgiveness, organised by his friend Richard Moore.
The Children in Crossfire charity boss was shot and blinded, aged 10, by a British soldier as he made his way home from school in Derry, in the North, in 1972.
Described by the Buddhist leader as “my hero”, Mr Moore sought out the soldier who struck him, Charles Innes, and the two later became friends.
The Dalai Lama gripped the hand of Mr Moore repeatedly during his address and thousands of onlookers erupted into applause when, during a spontaneous moment, Mr Innes emerged from the crowd and joined the two in a poignant embrace.
Dressed in his traditional Tibetan monk red robes, the Dalai Lama said human beings are biologically selfish, they had to be to survive, but could be wisely selfish rather than foolishly.
He said there was too much competition between people which bred distrust, suspicion and pain.
The Dalai Lama said modern society was paying more attention to technology than prayer, developing inner values and mental well-being.
Speaking about the gap between the rich and poor, he said it was not only morally wrong, but also caused practical problems by not trying to close the divide.
Arriving at the university by helicopter, he refused to cross a running track when he saw a small earthworm on the ground until one of his security entourage removed it to the safety of a field.
Roman Catholic priest Fr Damien Ryan, from Our Lady Of Lourdes Parish in Weston, Limerick, said the massive event would help with an ongoing regeneration of the city.
“The whole event was inspiring. He was very warm in a lovely sense,” he said.
“I think his message is relevant for Ireland, not just Limerick.”
Micheal O Suilleabhain, renowned Irish musician and Professor of Music at the University of Limerick, stewarded a music and dance prelude to the visit which included traditional Irish, Islamic and Jewish songs.