'Tara taught me to love again'

John with Fr Richard Gibbons and Tara
John with Fr Richard Gibbons and Tara

John McAreavey, whose wife Michaela Harte was murdered on their honeymoon in Mauritius over five years ago, has said his new fiancee has shown him “the beauty of life again”.

Mr McAreavey, speaking at a two-day event to mark the Catholic Church’s Year of Mercy at Knock Shrine in Mayo called ‘Engaging the Heart’, said his faith had helped him find forgiveness and rebuild his life.

And he told an audience of over 1,000 people in Knock yesterday that his fiancée Tara Brennan, whom he got engaged to towards the end of last year, had helped him all that was good in life again.

“It is only in recent times, in the last year or two, that I rediscovered the faith and the real energy in my life and that the world is a beautiful place.

“And coming from a situation where everything was dark and gloomy with no light, it is a wonderful thing for me to be able to say that I am able to love again.

John and Michaela

“My fiancée Tara has shown me the beauty of life again, all the good things about life and what I have learnt is that I am able to deal with anything that life puts in front of me because I know that I will always have God at my side,” he said.

Mr McAreavey co-founded the Michaela Foundation: Life Without Limits’ to commemorate and celebrate the values of his wife, a daughter of Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte.

Mr McAreavey said that the murder of his wife was extremely difficult to deal with but that his faith was the key instrument in him coming to terms with it,” he told the congregation.

“I do not want to be identified as a victim, a ‘poor me’ complex or to be seen as seeking sympathy. For me, ‘poor tragic husband, the man whose wife was murdered on honeymoon’, that description does not say who I am or what I do. I am a strong, confident person full of love and integrity and other positive traits and this is how I identify myself.

“The pain of losing a loved one in such a cruel and tragic manner, and then the injustice in the aftermath of that time. And I admit that there were times when there really was no hope left in my life and I could no longer bear such a heavy cross.

“When something like that happens we can either react with bitterness or I could seek to transform my suffering into a creative force, and I decided to choose the latter,” he said.

Mr McAreavey said the absence of feelings of retribution and bitterness was very important to him.

“Forgiveness doesn’t mean we should forget that the incident ever happened. By forgiving, for me, I was simply accepting the reality of what happened,” he added.