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Thursday 29 September 2016

Hawe family tragedy sparks rise in calls to counselling helplines

The coffin of one of the Hawe brothers outside the church Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
The coffin of one of the Hawe brothers outside the church Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The murder of a woman and her three young sons at the hands of their father, who also killed himself, has sparked a rise in the number of people seeking psychological support.

GPs and mental health professionals in Co Cavan have urged people to seek support if they need it in the wake of the killings.

School vice-principal Alan Hawe (41) killed his wife, Clodagh (39), and their sons, Liam (15), Niall (11) and six-year-old Ryan before taking his own life. The bodies were found in the family home last Monday.

"The whole country has been horrified by what 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.

"We expected an increase in the number of people calling counselling helplines and that has happened, but we would encourage anyone affected by the tragedy to seek help."

Despite the horrific manner of their deaths, the family were buried together.

Hundreds of mourners att- ended the funeral at St Mary's Church in Castlerahan, near Ballyjamesduff, on Saturday.

The three boys were buried between their parents following a requiem mass during which mourners heard that the murder-suicide was a "tragedy beyond our understanding"

"Two families united in support and brokenness," said local curate and family friend Fr Felim Kelly, who recalled the part Mrs Hawe and her husband played in the community and their "gifted, unspoiled and respectful children".

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

"How could so much goodness be destroyed? How such could such happiness be invaded? How? Why?" he asked.

Answers

"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."

Mrs Hawe's mother, Mary Coll, brought a basketball to the altar to commemorate her grandson, Liam; her cousin, Audrey, brought a trophy for Niall, to signify his many talents; while Gerry Nolan brought a woolly dog in Ryan's honour.

Anyone affected by the incident can contact the Samaritans on 116 123.

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