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Thursday 8 December 2016

Silent shock and grief as beautiful family mourned ahead of funerals

Published 03/09/2016 | 02:30

Mourners queue up to pay their respects
Mourners queue up to pay their respects
School vice-principal Alan Hawe with his wife Clodagh and their children Liam (13), Niall (11) and Ryan (6)

Outside the funeral home, two women stood in an embrace of dazed grief for a long, long time.

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Twenty minutes must have passed. And still the women stood, oblivious to all around them. Unable to comprehend the monumental scale of this horrifying tragedy - a loving mother slain, the lives of her children snuffed out as they lay sleeping in their beds.

Mourners console each other at the Lakelands funeral home in Cavan Photo: Tony Gavin
Mourners console each other at the Lakelands funeral home in Cavan Photo: Tony Gavin

And a father who had, by all accounts, doted on them all.

In a devastating Facebook post, Jacqueline, Clodagh's sister, paid tribute to her brother, Tadhg, who died in 2010, saying: "Remembering my little brother Tadhg. Always the life and soul. May he and Richie look after Alan, Clodagh, Liam, Niall and Ryan."

Last night, thousands of mourners made their way steadily to the Lakelands funeral home in the town, where the five bodies were laid out side by side, the three children in poignant white coffins.

Read More: It could be a year before true horror of that day emerges at inquest

Two mourners comfort each other Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Two mourners comfort each other Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Tragic Liam (13), Niall (11) and Ryan (6) died from stab wounds, while their beloved mother, Clodagh had been attacked and died from head wounds, according to an autopsy carried out by deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis.

Her body was discovered downstairs in the sitting room of the family home in Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan.

Mourners at the Lakelands Funeral Home in Cavan Town
Mourners at the Lakelands Funeral Home in Cavan Town

Alan Hawe took his own life after wiping out those of his family.

A studio photograph of the family in happier times was released yesterday.

Mourners queue at the Lakelands Funeral Home in Cavan Town
Mourners queue at the Lakelands Funeral Home in Cavan Town

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It showed the smiling faces of the family, dressed as if for a wedding - Clodagh in a pretty dress of peach lace, the faces of the children brimming with wide-smiling mischief, young Liam already as tall as his mother.

Mourners queue at the Lakelands Funeral Home in Cavan Town
Mourners queue at the Lakelands Funeral Home in Cavan Town

In a pointed display of unity, Clodagh's family, the Colls, along with Alan Hawe's family, have requested mourners to donate to a leading suicide charity, Pieta House, in lieu of flowers.

The funeral for all five will take place at Saint Mary's Church in Castlerahan, Co Cavan, at 4pm today. Burial will take place after Mass in the adjoining cemetery.

Gardaí at the scene of the Hawe family tragedy in Cavan Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Gardaí at the scene of the Hawe family tragedy in Cavan Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

As friends, relatives and a wide-flung pool of mourners came from all over the country to pay their respects yesterday, the mood was one of hushed shock.

Nobody could say a word.

Amongst the mourners were local councillors and former Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith but he, too, did not wish to make any comment.

As evening fell, a chill rain began to spit but still the mourners continued to arrive by the carload, their faces stricken, many streaked with tears.

The relatives had arrived early and had private prayers with Bishop Leo O'Reilly over the remains of their loved ones.

At the Hawe's dormer bungalow, a makeshift shrine had been erected of candles and over a dozen bunches of flowers. One bore the message: "To my beautiful, beautiful boys and wonderful parents. You will be sadly missed and loved."

Women's Aid has reported an increase in the number of women calling its helpline, distraught over the deaths of Clodagh Hawe and her children in such circumstances.

Meanwhile, local people are struggling to come to terms with Monday's unspeakable tragedy, discovered by gardaí after they were alerted by a relative who found a note pinned to the back door of the family home.

Just 48 hours before the bodies were found, Mr Hawe and his children attended an anniversary Mass for his grandmother in Windgap, Co Kilkenny - where he was from.

Clodagh worked as a school teacher in Oristown National School in Kells, Co Meath.

Principal Ann O'Kelly Lynch said that she was "a much-loved and valued teacher" at the school and "will be greatly missed by all who knew her".

One parent described her as the "best teacher in the world", while former pupil, Shauna Sheppard (14), paid tribute to Clodagh, who she said was a "very special person".

"Ms Hawe taught me in junior infants and then after that I had her every day to help me with English and maths so she was there for me every day," said Shauna, who also knew 13-year-old Liam, the eldest of the three Hawe brothers.

"She was so, so caring. If you had a problem you could go to her any time. She was very motherly towards me, always wanting to help me. She was just brilliant."

In a statement, Castlerahan National School - where Alan Hawe taught and where two of his children, Niall and Ryan, were pupils - paid tribute to the boys as "wonderful children who will be greatly missed by all who knew them."

"This is a terrible tragedy for the family, our school and our community. We are deeply saddened by this event. Our sympathy and thoughts are with the extended family and friends,' said principal, Anne Foley.

The Hawe's family home remains sealed off for technical examination, which is expected to take several days to complete.

Meanwhile, psychologists from the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) have been assigned to the primary schools to support and advise teachers in their efforts to try and help the children and staff process the events which unfolded.

The schools, it has been said, will also be open to parents to support them and offer them advice and guidance following the tragic deaths of the Hawe family.

Gardaí have said they are not looking for anyone else in relation to the deaths, with Assistant Commissioner John O'Driscoll telling a press-briefing at Ballyjamesduff Garda Station: "We believe all the answers are within that house."

He added that the "most likely scenario" was that of murder-suicide.

Irish Independent

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