Hope amid Harte family tragedy gives inspiration at Graan Novena

Part of the large crowd who came to the Novena of hope on Monday night to listen to Mark Harte.

Part of the large crowd who came to the Novena of hope on Monday night to listen to Mark Harte.

THIS week’s Novena of Hope at the Graan was ‘opened’ on Monday by Mark Harte, sister of Michaela who was murdered while on honeymoon with her husband John in Mauritius in January, 2010.

He spoke at two ‘standing room only’ sessions and, according to a Graan spokesman, his performance was, ‘phenomenal’.


“Definitely, absolutely amazing. We didn’t know whether he was going to make itto the first session, but he did and it was brilliant. He and his wife and his mother-in-law had their dinner with us, and he was lovely. He has his head screwed on.”

Mark (33) represented the family at last summer’s subsequent trial, and acquittal, of the two hotel workers accused of her murder.

Prior to his Novena talk, he spoke to the Herald about ‘hope’ as he experienced it. He had never spoken in public before about his sister, not even during the trial.

“I would have spoken at football functions and at Pioneer Masses, and things like that, so it would have been just something relevant.”

His closeness to Michaela is obvious, in what was a tightly-knit family of six, his parents, Mickey and Marian, Mark, Michael, Michaela and Matthew, who is currently working as a substitute teacher at Mount Lourdes grammar school.

“Yes, we were quite close. We had a lot of things in common: we both studied at university, we were both Irish language teachers and, obviously, we had a strong connection with sport.” (Mark has two All-Ireland medals).

So, is there hope in the Harte household?


“Of course, and it’s not just in my own home. I see hope everywhere. You find it in family members, in strong friendships and in people you meet on a day to day basis.

“Yes, I find it at Michaela’s grave. Absolutely. It’s an after-Mass ritual, isn’t it, but I don’t need to visit her grave to find hope, although I still like going there.”

And, for Mark, hope is important.

“It is something we all have to depend on from time to time in our lives, not just myself, but we all have our cross to bear. Certain things happen in life which you don’t have control over. What you can control, that’s how to look at it.

“I suppose that would be the message I’m trying to get across, that no matter what goes wrong in your life, if you approach life in a positive way, good things tend to happen to you.

“And, if bad things do happen, ultimately, you have a choice. You could bow your head and almost feel sorry for yourself, and not go out, and say, ‘that’s life’, but, thankfully, we were not brought up to believe that.

“We were brought up to believe you try to live as good a life as you can, you are going to make mistakes along the way, but the antidote to that is faith and that by trying to live a good life, you can overcome a lot of things.”

So, where in all of that positivity does Michaela, and the lack of closure from the trial, fit in?

“In an ideal world, we wanted Michaela back with us, alive. Unfortunately, this was never that simple, and the only agenda was that decisions were made and we have to leave them to a court of law to decide upon.

“But, she is very much in each and everyone of us on a daily basis, albeit in a different life.”

The Novena runs daily until Monday next, finishing with two talks by MEP Brian Crowley, a wheelchair user.

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