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Mickey Harte's sons speak of hurt and sadness following sister Michaela's death

Michaela McAreavey with her father Mickey Harte. Picture from Mickey Harte
Brendan Crossan and Claire Simpson

MICKEY Harte's sons have given powerful and moving first person accounts of how they learned their sister Michaela had been killed on honeymoon.

Michaela McAreavey, a teacher from Glencull in Co Tyrone, was murdered in Mauritius in January 2011, just 12 days after she married her husband John.

No one has been brought to justice for the murder.

In a new book written by former Tyrone Gaelic football manager Mickey Harte, now a manager with Louth, his sons Mark, Mattie and Michael speak of how they were told about their sister's death.

Mark recalled getting a telephone call from his father while he was at work in St Patrick's Grammar School in Armagh.

"I think I remember shouting and saying something like: 'Please tell me this isn't true'," he said.

After he left school he went to St Patrick's Cathedral to pray.

"There were tourists taking photos, smiling and laughing. I remember it struck me how different worlds can be just three feet apart. I thought: 'I'd love to swap places with you," he said.

Mickey Harte met Mark in the cathedral before the pair collected Mattie, who was on teaching practice in a nearby school.

"Mark took me to the car," he said. "Daddy was in the front. I sat down in the back. When he told me the news, I went into a daze. My head was gone."

Read the full interview with Mickey Harte

Michael Harte, Michaela Harte, Mattie Harte, and Mark Harte and Mickey Harte, seated, with his wife Marian after the former Tyrone GAA manager received an honorary degree from Queen's University Belfast in 2006. File picture from Press Association

All three drove to the physiotherapy clinic where their brother Michael worked.

Michael said his initial reaction on hearing the news was "an eruption of anger and hurt".

"I got into the car and Mattie was in floods of tears beside me," he said.

"Dad and Mark were trying to be strong... I was punching doors and windows."

Michael said when he saw his mother Marian "instinct took over".

"I wanted to be strong for Mum because I didn't want her to see how upset I was," he said.

The book, Devotion: A Memoir, was written by Mr Harte along with sports journalist Brendan Coffey.

Michaela's husband John McAreavey also gave his first person account.

Mr McAreavey, who remains close to the Harte family, said he initially struggled to believe his wife had been killed after he saw her body.

"My mind, at that point, wasn't willing to accept that she was dead," he said.

Mr Harte wrote that he has managed to live "without being eaten up by the whole thing".

"I can only explain it as a grace from God," he said.

He told The Irish News he found it emotional to read his sons' and Mr McAreavey's accounts.

"We didn’t go in-depth (at the time) because we weren't even in that place for a start," he said.

"At that stage you’re just surviving and you’re just getting through each day."

Read the full interview with Mickey Harte

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