Lyra was part of a generation of young Northern Irish people who wanted to put the country's troubled past behind it, to forge their own post-sectarian identity. Lyra wasn't to be defined by whether she was a Protestant or Catholic, she was fiercely proud to be from Northern Ireland but aware that things could be better.
She was a journalist but also one of Northern Ireland's new young voices. As a gay woman, Lyra wrote about her experiences of growing up gay in a country where gay marriage remains illegal.
Her letter to her 14-year-old self
went viral and broke barriers. She dedicated her TEDx talk
, in Northern Ireland's parliament buildings, to those killed by a terrorist in Orlando's Pulse nightclub in 2016 and LGBT people who had committed suicide.
Lyra's work tried to take Northern Ireland beyond its tragic past. She had a bitter sweet relationship with her country, describing it as "a place full of darkness and mysteries ... sometimes, I love it and hate it in equal measure."
For in many ways Northern Ireland, unlike the rest of the UK or the rest of Ireland, has remained trapped by its past. It has a younger generation who think of themselves in new identities, but a society where the scars of violence still run deep.
I first met Lyra when I came to Belfast to try and persuade the Northern Irish Assembly to reform the antiquated law of libel that was chilling investigative journalism. Asking around for people who I should reach out to, I got a unanimous response, "you have to speak to Lyra McKee."
Lyra at the time would have been no older than 24 but had already established herself as a fearless investigative journalist with her research into the murder of Robert Bradford, a Northern Irish MP, more than 30 years before.
She immediately got back to me. "My line of work means I often upset people in power," she told me.
"I often find myself being threatened with our archaic libel laws. For corrupt politicians, this law has become a means of silencing the press. This must end. Northern Ireland can never be a properly functioning democracy without a properly functioning press."
Over the following years, a small campaign group of prominent and passionate Northern Irish human rights advocates formed, with Lyra being endlessly optimistic and generous with her time.
If you are a freelance journalist, it isn't always easy finding the time for campaigns, but Lyra's energy was boundless -- if she thought something was wrong, she wanted to fix it.