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Relatives 'united in brokenness' after murder-suicide Hawe family laid to rest

By Greg Harkin

Published 05/09/2016

Coffins are taken into St Mary’s Church in Castlerahan, Co Cavan, where the funeral of the Hawe family took place
Coffins are taken into St Mary’s Church in Castlerahan, Co Cavan, where the funeral of the Hawe family took place
Hawe family

The devastation left by the deaths of five members of the same Co Cavan family in a suspected murder-suicide was etched on the faces of mourners who gathered at their funeral.

The Hawe family was 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 at St Mary's Church in Castlerahan on Saturday.

Gardai believe Mr Hawe killed his wife and children in their home at Oakdene in the townland of Barconey near Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, before taking his own life.

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 to signify his life.

Hawe family
Hawe family

"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.

Ahead of the service, mourners were asked to make donations to suicide charity Pieta House and a collection box was opened during the requiem Mass.

Mr Hawe was originally from the county and was deputy principal at Castlerahan National School, near where the family lived.

His wife grew up in Mount Nugent, Co Cavan, and she taught at Oristown National School in Co Meath.

Both their families have been left broken but united in sharing the pain of grief, the priest said.


Clodagh Hawe
Alan Hawe with his children Ryan, Liam and Niall

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