Mickey Harte, the legendary Tyrone Gaelic football manager will be the Irish Pastoral Centre’s special guest speaker at their annual banquet on November 15.
Hailing from Glencull, County Tyrone, Harte has become one of the renowned Gaelic football managers in Ireland. Under his leadership, the Tyrone Senior Gaelic football team have achieved unprecedented success winning their first ever All-Ireland Final in 2003, then again in 2005, and most recently in 2008.
Recalling the All Ireland wins Harte says for him choosing the most special of the three is a difficult task.
“There was always something different and unique about each of these successes …. In many ways they are all very important and therefore almost impossible to differentiate what was the best one.”
Laughing Harte says “The next one will be the best one.”
Along with All Ireland glory, the Tyrone team has also won four Ulster titles, one National League, and seven Dr. McKenna Cups in the last twelve years.
Part of the team's success has been attributed to Harte's holistic approach to coaching his players.
"It is essential to the type of managing I prefer that you do not just look at the talent of the person, you are looking at the person in their totality."
"It’s the substance which people have inside them, the soul, the spirit that they have inside them, you have to cultivate that aswell."
However, along with the triumphs on the pitch, the last two decades has equally been marred by tragedy off the field for both the Tyrone team and the Harte family.
The team has endured the sudden deaths of two of their talented players Paul McGirr (1997 ) and Cormac McAnallen (2004), before tragedy came knocking on Harte's own doorstep when in 2011, his only daughter Michaela was murdered whilst on her honeymoon in Mauritius.
Throughout such a harrowing experience, Harte, has showcased remarkable strength and poise which he attributes to his unwavering faith in God.
“It’s been essential. It’s been vital” admits the father of four
Adding “ It’s been the very thing that has sustained me.”
“I always say it [faith] doesn’t make it easy, it [faith] makes it possible to continue to live.”
One positive that has emerged out of such a terrible personal loss has been the setting up a foundation in honor of their daughter. Michaela's Foundation aims to encourage and promote confidence in young people around Ireland through various programs including a Girls Summer Camp.
Harte is delighted with the foundations success so far, saying “1000 young girls went through that system this year which is lovely to think that there is a thousand young girls feeling better about themselves, and a 100 young leaders, feeling good about life and themselves because of attending the camp so that’s very encouraging.”
Unusually for an Irish person, Harte has no relatives or personal connections in Boston, but after speaking with Father John of the Irish Pastoral Centre, the Tyrone Manager felt compelled to lend his support to the non-profit Irish organization located in Dorchester.
Harte said “I decided to make the trip to Boston after speaking with Fr. John about the nature of the good work that goes on at the I.P.C"
Further adding “Also, the fact that this particular event is very important to their annual budget I felt it would a privilege to be able to contribute in some way to this very worthy cause.”
His first ever visit to the city of Boston will be short, thanks to the recent draw for the 2015 Ulster Senior Football Championship. Harte's team will face last year's Ulster Senior Football winners, Donegal, in the preliminary round this January.
Laughing he admits "I've got a lot of work to do back home."