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Community 'rocked to the core' after Cavan murder-suicide


Alan Hawe with his sons Ryan (6), Liam (13) and Niall (11)

Alan Hawe with his sons Ryan (6), Liam (13) and Niall (11)

Alan Hawe with his sons Ryan (6), Liam (13) and Niall (11)

A Gaeltacht community in Co Meath has been "rocked to its core" by the loss of teacher Clodagh Hawe.

The mother of three died alongside her three children - all four killed by her husband Alan who later took his own life.

Each day, Clodagh drove the 30 minutes from her home outside Ballyjamesduff in Co Cavan to the small rural Oristown National School, a few miles outside Kells, Co Meath.

And it was clear in the faces of staff and pupils who gathered at the school yesterday how much she was loved, many in tears as they faced up to the loss of Ms Hawe.

Past pupil Shauna Sheppard (14) spoke lovingly of a teacher who was warm and kind.

"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 boys who died. "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."

The teenager said the community was still struggling to take in what had happened but she was keen the outside world knew Ms Hawe was "a very special person and a very special teacher".

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Many past pupils who she had taught over the past decade have been left traumatised by her death.

Publican Catherine Colwell said the community had been "rocked to its core" by the deaths in Ballyjamesduff.

"I know that the community in Cavan is in shock but it is the same here," said Catherine. "Everyone has been talking about poor Ms Hawe, whether their children went to Oristown or to the gaelscoil just up the road. It has affected everyone really badly because she touched so many lives in our community.

"People are obviously judging her husband now but no-one knows what was going through his mind. It's just an awful, awful tragedy for Ballyjamesduff and for Oristown."

Parents paid tribute to principal Ann O'Kelly Lynch for the support she provided to pupils at the school yesterday.

"Our school has lost the best teacher in the world," said one tearful local mother.

"No teacher's salary could compensate for the amount of dedication Miss Hawe gave the boys and girls at this school.

"It will take years to get over this."

If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article you can contact the Samaritans in confidence on 116 123.

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