Northern Ireland

Hawe family: Cavan deaths 'a tragedy beyond understanding'

The coffins of the Hawe family are brought into the church
Image caption The Hawe family were buried together after a funeral mass at St Mary's Church, Castlerahan

Mourners at the funeral of a family who were found dead in their home after an apparent murder-suicide have been told their deaths were a "tragedy beyond our understanding".

The bodies of Alan and Clodagh Hawe, and their sons Liam, 13, Niall, 11, and Ryan, six, were found at their home.

The five were buried together after a funeral Mass at St Mary's Church, Castlerahan in County Cavan.

Irish police said they were not looking for anyone in relation to the deaths.

Image caption The funeral Mass was relayed to mourners outside the church via loudspeaker

Fr Felim Kelly said two families were "united in support and brokenness".

"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," he told the congregation of family and friends.

"Clodagh, Alan, Liam, Niall and Ryan are at peace. This is what faith tells us. This is the assurance of hope," Fr Kelly added.

Image caption Clodagh Hawe worked as a teacher at Oristown National School in County Meath

The Mass was also relayed to those outside the church via loudspeaker.

From the funeral: Kevin Magee, BBC News NI

Heartbroken mourners watched in disbelief as a procession of coffins filed into St Mary's Church in Castlerahan.

Clodagh Hawe's was first followed by those of her three children - Liam, Niall and the youngest boy Ryan.

Alan's was last. A parent on either side - their children in between.

Inside a basketball was placed on Liam's coffin, a sporting trophy on Niall's and a woolly dog on six year-old Ryan's in memory of their short lives.

The words of a poem read by Clodagh Hawe's sister Jacqueline reflected the thoughts of many in the congregation: "It breaks our heart to lose you all, you did not go alone. For part of us went with you all, the day God called you home."

The church bells tolled as all five members of the Hawe family were buried side-by-side in the adjoining cemetery.

One man shook his head, turned and said: "We will never be able to understand what has happened here. I was talking to all the family last week. My own kids were in school with theirs. And now this."

Mr Hawe was a deputy principal at Castlerahan National School, which his sons, Niall and Ryan, attended and eldest son Liam was a former pupil.

Image caption The coffin of Liam Hawe arriving at St Mary's Church in Castlerahan

Mrs Hawe was also a teacher and worked at Oristown National School in County Meath.

Fr Kelly said the "family played an amazing part in their life of their schools as teachers, held in the highest regard by colleagues, parents and children, respectful of all in their care and so co-operative in every possible way".

"The children, gifted pupils, team players, budding leaders, warm friends. What a loss," he said.

Image copyright Hawe family
Image caption Alan and Clodagh Hawe, and their sons Liam, Niall and Ryan, were buried together

"Likewise in the community. Organisations and individuals benefitted from so much generous sharing with true family and Christian values the motive and inspiration."

He told mourners that his abiding memories of the family would be visiting them on a Christmas morning "a couple of years ago" and also of their regular presence at church.

Image caption Fr Kelly said Castlerahan was at the centre of "many, many people's thoughts and prayers'

During the funeral Mass, symbols were placed on the coffins of each family member including a family photograph on Mrs Hawe's and a toy dog on Liam's.

"As we begin our Mass, I would ask you all to stop and reflect on the symbols and the awfulness of the moment," said Fr Kelly.

He added: "Castlerahan may be at the centre of the world today but it is also the centre of many, many people's thoughts and prayers and good will as messages have been pouring in all week from diverse places and generous people."

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