Saturday 21 April 2018

Hawe family case causes big surge in calls for help

Alan Hawe murdered his wife and sons before killing himself
Alan Hawe murdered his wife and sons before killing himself

Greg Harkin and Liam Collins

Mental-health professionals say there has been an increase in the number of people seeking support in the wake of the Hawe family murder-suicide tragedy.

GPs in Cavan and Meath have been urging communities affected by the Castlerahan deaths to seek help, recognising the 'far-reaching' affects of the incident.

Experts say the murder of Clodagh Hawe and her sons by her husband Alan, who then took his own life, has caused "unprecedented" trauma for several communities.

"The whole country has been horrified by what has happened but this is also a unique tragedy because both Clodagh and Alan were teachers whose work reached far and wide into hundreds of homes in two counties," one medical professional said.

"As a result, we expected an increase in the number of people seeking help and that has happened, but we would encourage anyone affected by the tragedy to seek help."

The devastation left by the deaths at the Hawe family home, 6km from Ballyjamesduff, a week ago was etched on the faces of mourners who gathered at St Mary's Church in Castlerahan on Saturday.

The Hawe family were buried in a family grave: father Alan (41) and his wife Clodagh (39) on either side, with the white caskets of their three sons - Liam (15), Niall (11), Ryan (6) - the young boys whose lives ended so tragically, placed between them.

"Two families united in support and brokenness," said local curate Fr Felim Kelly in an emotional homily.

Fr Kelly, a family friend, recalled the part Clodagh and Alan played in the community, and their "gifted", "unspoiled" and "respectful children".

He paid tribute to "two families united in support and brokenness, sharing the burden, bewildered, pained and yet heroic."

Fr Kelly asked: "How so much goodness could be destroyed? How such happiness could be invaded? How? Why? It is not for us to seek answers or to surmise about behaviour. We all are trying to cope with a tragedy beyond our understanding."

During the funeral Mass, Alan's brother Philip brought up a gift of a Kilkenny jersey to signify the "noble tradition" of the county in which he was steeped.

Clodagh Hawe's mother, Mary Coll, brought up a basketball to commemorate her grandson Liam; Audrey, Clodagh's cousin, brought up a trophy for Niall, to signify his many talents and serious nature; while Gerry Nolan - known as "Granddad", by Ryan - brought up a gift of a woolly dog with appealing eyes.

"As we reflect on the symbols and the awfulness of this moment, the Holy Spirit speaks to us in our anger and bewilderment or despair, even curiosity and possibly emptiness at this time," said Fr Kelly.

Irish Independent

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