Heartbroken gaelic football manager Mickey Harte helped shoulder the coffin for his murdered newly-wed daughter as thousands of people joined the funeral cortege.
One of Northern Ireland’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.
Irish President Mary McAleese was among those who attended the funeral of Tyrone GAA manager Harte’s daughter. Many others followed the cortege from the family home in bright winter sunshine.
It was one of the biggest funerals in Northern Ireland 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.
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.
As Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson addressed representatives at Stormont as the legislature reconvened after its Christmas break, he said the 27-year-old’s tragic death had captured public attention and united people in grief.
Mr Robinson said the young teacher had been a valued relative and friend to those who shared her life, but that their warm tributes meant many more people now felt they knew her. Ulster Unionist representative Danny Kennedy, who said he knew the McAreavey family, extended his sympathies to the young woman’s bereaved relatives and those of her husband John.