When Alan Hawe murdered his wife Clodagh and their three children, Liam, Niall and Ryan it was seen as a tragedy. That involved sweeping under the carpet the real reasons behind what was an appalling crime – resulting in grave injustices to the family of Clodagh Hawe.
One of the most extraordinary stories in Ireland in recent years was brought back into deeply disquieting light last week. People will recall that Alan Hawe – a deputy principal in Castlerahan National School in Virginia, Co. Cavan – murdered his wife Clodagh and their three children Liam (13), Niall (11) and Ryan (6) at their home on 29 August, 2016.
Hot Press remembers the extraordinary, glowing eulogy given at his funeral by the local priest Fr. Felim Kelly. At the time many of us felt: this is madness. How can these benedictions be bestowed on a man responsible for the gruesome massacre of four people?
We were not alone. Last week, the sister of Clodagh Hawe, Jacqueline Connolly and her mother Mary Coll, appeared on Claire Byrne Live. Jacqueline wrote a follow-up piece in the Sunday Independent. One of the most striking aspects pf what she had to say related to the eulogy – and how desperately inappropriate it clearly was. But Clodagh’s family had no say in the matter. Readers can only imagine how appalling it must have been to sit through what were, in truth, toxic words.
Jacqueline also spoke about the different ways in which the State has failed the family. In particular, it was revealed that the contents of the murderer’s suicide note had been withheld from them for 16 unbearable months.
In the note Alan Hawe had made the following extraordinary demands: (1) Cremate me and dump me in the sea; (2) Don’t bury me with my family; (3) Do not bury me as a Catholic; and (4) Do not forgive me.
All of this was ignored. He was indeed buried with his family. Later, Clodagh’s sister and mother requested that he be exhumed: that was finally done in 2017. But, having covered the cost of the funeral and the burial, Jacqueline and her mother had been left with a debt of €50,000. Alan Hawe had transferred all of his assets to his own family before killing himself.
At first, without access to his suicide note, Alan Hawe's actions in murdering his family seemed impossible to fathom. But it emerged that he had been on the brink of disgrace. He was, apparently, a cross dresser. Nothing wrong with that, in itself, you might say. He also regularly consumed porn while at work – which is more specifically problematic, not least because he was the vice principal of a national school.
All of this, apparently, had been discovered. Rather than face the inevitable fall from grace, he decided to take his own life.
And in a supreme act of selfishness, he also decided to murder his wife and family.
Jacqueline Connolly and Mary Coll are now seeking an inquiry into the case. Hot Press says that any right minded person would have to support them in that. It is the very least they deserve...