Ciara McGorman carefully set the large wedding photo on an easel at the front of the chapel at the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. It showed her friend and neighbor, Michaela Harte McAreavey, from the little village of Ballygawley, County Tyrone, Ireland, beaming and radiant, as only a bride can be, in her wedding dress.
The dress in which the 27-year-old teacher was buried this week.
Friends, family members, and representatives from the organizations Michaela Harte McAreavey loved so much—the Gaelic Athletic Association, the Tyrone Society, and the Rose of Tralee—gathered at the Sunday evening Mass, concelebrated by poet-priest Father John McNamee of Philadelphia with Father Gerard Burns, formerly of St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish in East Lansdowne and now a parish priest in County Mayo, Ireland.
Michaela Harte McAreavy, married on December 30, 2010 to noted Down footballer John McAreavy, was found brutally murdered on January 10 while on her honeymoon in the Indian Ocean nation of Mauritius. She had been strangled in their hotel room, apparently after surprising hotel employees who used a key card to enter the room to burglarize it. Five men have been charged in connection with the killing of the only daughter of popular Tyrone senior football manager, Mickey Harte. Michaela McAreavy was buried on January 17th after a funeral mass at St. Malachy’s Church near Ballygawley.
Father MacNamee, pastor emeritus of St. Malachy’s Church in North Philadelphia, opened his remarks with a sigh. “This is the week that was,” he said, noting it was also the week the death toll from cholera was rising in Haiti and in which a 9-year-old girl, Christina Green, granddaughter of former Phillies Manager Dallas Green, was killed in Tucson, Arizona, along with five others in a shooting that wounded Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Christine Green had been featured in a book on babies born on September 11, 2001. “Her parents had her as a sign of hope to all us in time of sorrow,” said Father McNamee. She had been “as innocent and fragile and vulnerable as the beautiful Michaela,” he told the more than 200 mourners who lined the chapel pew. “Life is a terrible beauty, as Yeats called it.”
Michaela was also eulogized by Sean Breen, president of the Philadelphia Gaelic Athletic Association, Angela Mohan, coach of the Mairead Farrells Ladies Gaelic Football Club; Mairead Farrell footballer Orla Treacy, whose father, Mick, is a friend of the Hartes; and McGorman. Music—including a heartbreaking rendition of Sarah MacLachlan’s “In the Arms of an Angel”—was provided by Karen Boyce McCollum, who, like Michaela, was an International Rose of Tralee contestant, as well as Roisin McCormack and Raymond Coleman.
Father McNamee twice quoted Irish poet William Butler Yeats in his eulogy, reciting from “The Stolen Child””
“Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”
“The world,” he said, “is both a beautiful place and a tragic place. . .and more full of weeping than we can understand.”
Click here to see photos from the mass.