“WE ALL are trying to cope with a tragedy beyond our understanding,” said Father Felim Kelly as he laid the five members of the Hawe family to rest in Cavan today.
Hundreds of people from the local parish community were at St Mary’s Church in Castlerahan to pay their respects to the tragic Irish family who died in a murder-suicide last week.
The bodies of father Alan Hawe, mother Clodagh Hawe, 39, and their three sons Liam, 13, Niall, 11, and Ryan, 6, were discovered in their home last Monday.
The four were killed by father Alan, a 41-year-old teacher, who then took his own life.
Heartbroken family and friends were among the mourners who turned out to honour the memory of the family.
Fr Kelly, Curate in the Parish of Castlerahan and Munterconnaught, led the Funeral Mass.
“The family played an amazing part in the 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.
“There is a dark side too,” he added. “ How so much goodness could be destroyed? How such happiness could be invaded? How? Why?
”It is not for us to seek answers or to surmise about behaviour.”
As part of the Mass, members of the extended Hawe family offered up a number of items representing the personalities of each of their lost loved ones.
Philip, Alan’s uncle, placed a Kilkenny jersey on Alan’s coffin, while Clodagh’s mother Mary carried a family photograph symbolising her daughter’s gifts as a wife and mother.
The three Hawe sons, two of whom were alter boys at St Mary’s, were also remembered in a special way.
There was a basketball for Liam, a sports trophy for Niall and a woolly dog for the youngest boy Ryan – placed on his small coffin by his grandfather Gerry.
“Symbols make a statement,” Fr Kelly said. “I would like you to focus on two families united in support and brokenness, sharing the burden, bewildered, pained and yet heroic.
“Mary Coll, Clodagh’s mother, Jacqueline her sister and Gary, Jacqueline’s son. How much more can a family endure.
“Stephen and Olive Hawe, Alan’s parents, Enda and PJ his brothers, Sarah and Vanessa his sister-in-laws.
"Uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews and extended family. The symbol of the dove is appropriate.”
Both teachers, colleagues of Alan and Clodagh from Castlerahan and Oristown National Schools, were among those who attended today’s funeral.
“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,” Fr Kelly added.
He also recalled visiting the Hawe family on a recent Christmas Day and how the warm welcome he had received was a cherished memory.
“I know I was calling to see close friends and knew the welcome, Clodagh with her scones, red jam and mug of coffee, Liam, Niall and Ryan busily like budding engineers building all kinds of Lego,” he said.
“More importantly they invited the old man and indeed showed him how to go about some intricate structures.
“Alan standing with his back to the kitchen sink totally at ease enjoying the bean an tí and the antics of unspoiled and respectful sons.
“Though it must be said Ryan the youngest had the eyes of a rogue and a beguiling manner. That is my abiding memory of a family at Christmas.”
Earlier in the week, Bishop Leo O'Reilly of Kilmore who is also patron of Saint Mary’s National School, Castlerahan, where Alan Hawe worked, summed up the mood in the town by saying it was difficult to understand.
"I know that I speak for all people of faith and of goodwill when I express my heartfelt prayerful sympathy to the relatives, friends and neighbours of the deceased.
"Families are the cornerstone of our parish communities, and the sudden loss of one young family, in such a shocking way, is unbearable and near impossible to comprehend.
“Especially now – as the new school year begins - my thoughts and prayers are with the school friends and the teachers of the children who have died in this family tragedy.
The Hawe family bodies were discovered last Monday when two members of An Garda Síochána called to their home in Ballyjamesduff, Cavan.
A concerned member of the public has raised the alarm with Monaghan Garda Station.
Gardaí announced at a press conference later that day that they believe the case was a murder/suicide and that they weren't looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.
Burial for the family of five took place after today's requiem Mass in the cemetery beside St Mary’s Church.