Peace to Cavan after the loss of an entire family

By Laura Lynott   @Ly211

It is so hard to contemplate the suffering that has occurred in Cavan after the tragedy that saw three young children and their teacher parents die in what’s believed to be a murder-suicide.

All I know is that today as a country we mourn the loss of the innocent Hawe children, Liam, 13, Niall, 11, and Ryan, 6, and their teacher mother, Clodagh, in her 30s and indeed their vice principal father, Alan, in his 40s.

It is without doubt that whatever occurred before and during such horror in this family home – that something terrible, incomprehensible, took place – an enigma that we cannot yet contemplate and something we may never understand.

However, it ought be paramount today that as a country, we remember this was a family who lived, loved and were part of an entire community – and rather than pointing the finger of blame, perhaps we should question just why such a tragedy took place and left a mark that will never be removed from an entire county.

It has not yet become clear if Alan Hawe – a successful and highly respected member of the community, who taught at Castlerahan primary school in Ballyjamesduff, Cavan – was suffering from any psychological troubles before the tragedy.

But we can safely assume – if time does show that indeed the father-of-three was responsible for murdering his wife and children – then it is clear some deep emotional torment was at the heart of this case.

We know from this country’s recent past, that this is not the first harrowing loss we have witnessed, though it is certainly one of the worst when considering the sheer number who have died.

Cork, Limerick, Wexford and Sligo are just a few of the counties that have witnessed similar losses.  And each county, town and village, will never forget the despair visited upon them.

holding hands
It’s time for us to stand together as families, as a country

After the dust has settled and the community in Cavan are given time to grieve the Hawe family, perhaps it is time the state began to query why these tragedies are unfolding.

Questions should be asked is there more that the machinations of our state could do, that every single one of us, could do, to ensure this never happens again?

Could services finally be linked up to provide a route to psychological care?  Could we finally break the stigma of mental health by just admitting so many of us suffer in silence at some point or another – and that it is okay – that we just need to talk, to let it out?  There is no guarantee, that this is the answer to stop such horror – but we need to make efforts to try to do something positive in the wake of such unfathomable loss.

Could we all come together as a country, a society, and accept we need to care for everyone – not just those with money or standing?  Could we all ask, are you okay?  Do you want to have a coffee, a chat?  If we see someone is clearly bothered about something in their lives.

But the truth is, right now, as a country, a state, we simply do not know how or even if we can stop such tragedies unfolding.  But there is nothing wrong surely with hope, that we can help to make that change, to try at least.

As a journalist, I have never seen the darkness that claims a community in the wake of such cases as murder-suicide.

I’ve talked to families of murder victims, to those who’ve lost children to suicide and I’ve mourned for each and every loss, silently on my own when I return home and each time I prayed at night when I left anyone in suffering.  It was my way of coping with watching others in pain.

To me, it was always my role to respect and care for those in pain, and that duty came above being a journalist – that made me a human being able to look herself in the mirror at night.

People living close to such tragedy, seem to be consumed by the darkness that we do not normally get to see in the every day thankfully and they carry a sense of burden, of loss, often internally questioning why didn’t they see what was going to happen, could they have done something sooner or they try to understand why such horror came to pass.

When I worked on several of these stories over the years, all I know is I walked away feeling a piece of me had been left behind in the communities in question – that the darkness that had visited had also eaten a piece of me, merely a passing witness to events.

I could not therefore imagine the devastation that Cavan is feeling today because though I feel sorrow, like every single mother across this country and beyond – I am not thankfully, in the midst of this pain.

As I watched tiny little children walk to school yesterday, swinging their bags and skipping merrily down the street in the late summer sunshine – I felt a sense of sorrow as I realised my own daughter is almost grown up.

As she walked beside the smaller children, I knew she was on the cusp of womanhood as it was the first day of her last year in school.

I grieved a little at the thought of her no longer being my child and at the loss of time that had simply seemed to have evaporated as I lived my life, mostly in a career, mostly just trying to keep my head above water.

I know regretfully, that I missed so much because I had to pay the bills.  I missed milestones and passing moments that would have meant so much to her, to me.

But I am so thankful for the time I have had, for the love I’ve enjoyed giving and receiving, for the joy and pain of being a mother – and it’s true, it is the single most important role a woman can carry in her life.  Sadly, society doesn’t always recognise that.


Because I am a mother, that is why today I grieve for the Hawe family, for the children who should be going to school today, telling their stories of what they got up to in the long summer holidays.  The youngest should also be skipping to class today, looking forward to painting a picture or writing a story. And their mother should be wiping a tear from her eye as she realised too, just how quickly her eldest was growing up.

I prayed for the family last night, just as I am sure many others did, and when I saw their photos this morning in the papers, my heart sank because I knew that no matter what, children are always innocent.  We mourn in particular for children because sadly if they die, they have not yet had a chance at life.  There are just so many things left unsaid and unknown of what they could have become or what duties they could have carried out to make the world a better place.

I will think of the Hawe family and in particular the young mother and her children, today and tomorrow and no doubt, the memory of this tragedy will forever be there embedded in our history.

But, I will also strive to be kind, to ask if you are okay, do you want a coffee, a chat?  If any single person I know makes it clear to me they need my shoulder – and for now, that’s the only thing I can do.  Will you please join me?  And today, I will also think of Cavan.  I wish the community, the extended family and friends of the Hawe’s and every family, peace.






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