NewsCrime Desk

Father who killed wife and three sons pinned note to door warning visitors to call gardai

Alan Hawe pictured with sons Ryan (6), Liam (13) and Niall (11) at an East Cavan Eagles basketball game in May 2016
Alan Hawe pictured with sons Ryan (6), Liam (13) and Niall (11) at an East Cavan Eagles basketball game in May 2016
The scene at Oakdene, Barcroney, Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan yesterday
The scene at Oakdene, Barcroney, Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan yesterday

The father who tragically killed his wife and three sons before taking his own life pinned a note to the back door of his family home warning the next visitor to call gardai.

Alan Hawe, his wife Clodagh and their three children Liam (13), Niall (11) and Ryan (6) were found dead in their house in Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan yesterday morning.

A male relative who had called to their home found a note pinned to the door asking any visitor to call gardai before going inside.

It's understood a female garda was one of those who made the horrific discovery of the three brothers in two bedrooms upstairs.

Their parents were discovered in separate rooms downstairs.

Mr Hawe, who was in his 40s, was a vice principal at Castlerahan National School.

His wife Clodagh was also a teacher, at Oristown National School near Kells, Co Meath.

The Hawes were described as a "salt of the earth family" by neighbours.

They were actively involved in Castlerahan GAA Club and had just attended a club football match on Sunday.

The family were spotted at the game, which the club won, in high spirits. Mr Hawe had also just begun his first year as treasurer of the Ballyjamesduff-based club.

Last night forensic officers were continuing their examination of the bungalow while the five bodies were removed in preparation for post-mortem examinations by Deputy State pathologist Dr Michael Curtis.

It is understood a knife was used in at least some of the killings.

Assistant Garda Commissioner Jack O'Driscoll last night said two gardai made the "grim discovery" after Monaghan garda station received a call earlier yesterday morning about a "suspicious person".

Commissioner O'Driscoll confirmed that the gardai are not looking for any other suspects. 

"The most likely scenario is that one person in that house may have caused the death of others," he said at a press conference last night.

"All the circumstances will be explored. We are not looking for anybody else.

"We believe all the answers are within that house."

The garda chief confirmed there is no evidence that a firearm was used.

However, he added that a "number of objects" were found in the house and will be technically examined.

Investigators said they had not yet established the circumstances that led to the tragedy.

One senior officer said there had been no outward signs of any problems in the family.

He said the family had been away for the day and the children had been playing outside the house on Sunday night.

It's understood that Mr Hawe had a history of mental health difficulties but the HSE last night would not comment on this. He was described as "an excellent teacher".

"This is a terrible tragedy for the family, our school and our community," said Anne Foley Principal of Castlerahan National School.

"Alan was a valued member of our school staff and community.

"Niall and Ryan were pupils in our school and Liam was a past pupil. They were wonderful children who will be greatly missed by all who knew them."

Ann O'Kelly Lynch, Principal at Oristown National School said that Mrs Hawe - who taught at the school for the past nine years - was a "much loved and valued teacher" and will be "greatly missed by all who knew her".

Psychologists from the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) have been providing support and advice to both schools.

A spokesperson for Castlerahan GAA club said that the family were "well-known and widely-respected".

"The entire GAA family in Castlerahan are shocked and grief-stricken at this terrible event," the statement added.

The three boys were also involved in the East Cavan Eagles Basketball Club, where they were photographed at an event earlier this year.

A close friend of the family said that the Hawes the family have lived in the area for more than 10 years. "They were well respected around here," said one neighbour. "We just cannot believe something like this has happened in our little village."

Another local in the rural community described the family as "salt of the earth" people.

"You couldn't meet nicer people if you wanted to," said another neighbour.

Originally from Co Kilkenny, Alan Hawe was a keen handball player and once won the Leinster Junior Colleges Handball championship.

Clodagh Hawe's brother Tadhg died tragically when he was just 26 years old, six years ago this week.

Her family were originally from the townland of Clontyduff, outside Mountnugent.

The Hawes' eldest son Liam (13), a former pupil of Castlerahan NS, was just beginning second year in secondary school. Like so many young teens, he is on social media and had the motto on his Instagram page: 'In the end I'll only regret the chances I didn't take'.

Liam had posted a series of pictures with school friends. One picture taken in December 2015 had the caption: "Primary school seems like forever ago now".

In another photo taken in July, while wearing his beloved Cavan GAA jersey in Italy, Liam joked: "The Con-Merchant of Venice" with the hashtag 'county baller'. Last night friends paid tribute to the young teen.

Middle son Niall (11) was a pupil at Castlerahan National School, where his father was vice principal. He was involved with the East Cavan Eagles basketball team - and was even given an award in July of this year.

The youngest son Ryan was just six years of age and also a pupil at the local national school where his father taught.

If you have been affected by issues in this article, you can free-phone the Samaritans on 116 123