Three children were murdered by their school teacher father who also killed their mother before taking his own life.
Alan Hawe, aged in his 40s, is believed to have stabbed sons Liam (13), Niall (11) and six-year-old Ryan and their mother, Clodagh, who was in her 30s, at the family home in Oakdene, Barconey, Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan.
The bodies of the three boys were found upstairs in two bedrooms, while their parents were discovered downstairs in separate rooms.
It is understood that Mr Hawe used a knife and "other sharp implements".
He was vice-principal of Castlerahan Central National School, where Niall and Ryan were students.
Liam was due to start second year in post-primary school.
The boys' mother was a teacher in Oristown National School in nearby Kells, Co Meath.
The couple had lived in Ballyjamesduff for 10 years and were well-known in the community.
Only hours before Mr Hawe murdered his family, he and his sons were seen at a football match at their local GAA club, Castlerahan, on Sunday.
Witnesses told the Herald the family looked happy and relaxed, with no indication of any thing amiss. The boys were also seen playing outside the house on Sunday evening.
Mr Hawe is believed to have killed his sons and wife on Sunday night or in the early hours of yesterday.
Their bodies were discovered in their home by gardai at 11.18am yesterday morning after a relative raised the alarm when they failed to get into the house.
Gardai said yesterday they believed the answers to what happened lay inside the walls of the family home.
No one else is being sought in connection with the deaths, which are being treated as a murder-suicide.
No motive has emerged, but there were reports locally that Mr Hawe, originally from Windgap, Co Kilkenny, may have had mental health difficulties in the past.
Castlerahan GAA issued a statement last night on behalf of the club's members members.
"Castlerahan GAA club were deeply saddened to learn this afternoon of the tragic deaths of the Hawe family," the statement said.
"The family were well-known and widely-respected within our club and community and the news has come as a dreadful shock to everyone involved in the club.
"On behalf of the players, officials and members we pass on our deepest sympathies to the wider bereaved families and all their friends and colleagues.
"The entire GAA family in Castlerahan are shocked and grief-stricken at this terrible event."
Following a detailed examination of the scene, a knife and other implements were removed by investigators.
Five hearses departed the house yesterday afternoon for Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, where post mortems are due to be carried out in the coming days.
Castlerahan National School paid tribute to the three brothers who were described as "wonderful children who will be greatly missed by all who knew them".
Their father was "a valued member of our school staff and community", principal Anne Foley said in a statement.
"This is a terrible tragedy for the family, our school and our community. We are deeply saddened by this event. Our sympathy and our thoughts are with the extended family and friends," she said.
The school has brought in psychologists to help pupils cope with their grief. It is to be opened today for parents.
Principal Ann O'Kelly Lynch of Oristown National School paid tribute to Mrs Hawe, who was originally from Mount Nugent, Co Cavan.
"Clodagh was a much loved and valued teacher in our school and will be greatly missed by all who knew her," she said.
Neighbours of the family said lastnight they were deeply shocked.
"They were well-respected around here. The family were quiet but were well-liked," said one.
"We just cannot believe something like this has happened in our little village."
Another resident of the rural community described the family as "salt of the earth" people.
Yet another said: "We all look out for each other around here. You couldn't meet nicer people if you wanted to. I just don't know what to say."
It emerged yesterday that the tragedy is the second to hit Mrs Hawe's family in recent years.
Her brother, Tadgh, also died tragically six years ago this week.
The family were originally from the townland of Clontyduff, outside Mount Nugent.
Villagers gathered at the local pub and supermarket to discuss the awful events just a few kilometres away.
"Clodagh left here a few years ago to go to college," said one local mother. "Tadgh would have stayed on and would have been better known. His death devastated the community and devastated the family.
"A lot of young lads were hit very hard by his death, and now this happens. It's just really dreadful."
The Bishop of Kilmore, Leo O'Reilly, who is patron of the school where Mr Hawe taught, also expressed his sympathies to relatives and friends of the Hawes.
"I know that I speak for all people of faith and goodwill when I express my heartfelt prayerful sympathy to the relatives, friends and neighbours of the deceased," he said.
"Families are the cornerstone of our parish communities, and the sudden loss of one young family in such a shocking way is unbearable and near impossible to comprehend."
If you have been affected by issues in this article, you can speak with the Samaritans in confidence on 116 123.