The deputy principal of a national school in Castlerahan, Cavan, Mr Hawe was found dead in his home on Monday morning, having killed his wife (Clodagh, 39) and their three children (Liam, 13, Niall, 11 and Ryan, five). The couple had been married since July 2000.
“If you probe everyone in the parish you’re not going to find someone who’ll say: ‘They were all over the shop, he was out drinking and wouldn’t be back until two in the morning.’ It just wasn’t like that,” said Larry McGinn.
“I tell you, if this happened in any other house in the parish, he [Alan] is the one you’d be ringing first to help and co-ordinate everything,” he said.
Mr McGinn who lives a few hundred metres from the Hawe family in Castlerahan outside Ballyjamesduff, has known them for more than a decade.
He said no one would have predicted this terrible tragedy was going to happen, least of all to this family.
“It’s just a bombshell. To the outside eye, [there were] absolutely no problems. The house was bought 15 years ago before boom times, probably pretty reasonably, two teacher jobs. You couldn’t see anything in that line,” Mr McGinn said.
He was speaking outside the family home of the Hawes which remained sealed off yesterday and surrounded by Garda presence.
The Castlerahan National School was closed, even though it was scheduled to reopen yesterday. The church also cancelled its two masses that were planned for the morning. A GAA meeting last night was also cancelled. The last time Mr McGinn heard from Mr Hawe was on Saturday morning.
Mr Hawe sent a text message to him seeking confirmation about a community development meeting that was planned for this week.
He was then seen collecting money at the gate of the local GAA club last Sunday, the evening before he took his own life and those of his three children and wife.
Mr McGinn said there was no indication that Mr Hawe was experiencing any health issues in recent times.
“I couldn’t actually imagine asking him if he had any problems. He was always absolutely on the button. His young fella [Ryan] wasn’t going to be around for football on Saturday and he text a parent to tell the coaches that the young fella wasn’t going to be at football. That’s under-six, where there might be 40 kids there, just running around,” he said.
The family is described as being deeply involved in the community with both parents reading at mass and all three children working as altar servers.
“If anything went wrong in the community Alan would be on-hand to help out. It’s too sad to even imagine what went on. The family were just salt of the earth, a beautiful family and Clodagh [Mr Hawe’s wife] was a beautiful person. The kids were involved in church events, community events, and they were just lovely,” Mr McGinn said.
The neighbour and family friend said Clodagh was not as active in the community as her husband because she taught in a school outside the parish, in Oristown National School, near Kells, Co Meath.
“Clodagh wouldn’t have been involved in meetings [GAA and community development] and things but you would have seen her at mass. She wasn’t mad outgoing but she was a great chatter, one-on-one she’d talk for hours,” he said.
Mr McGinn described the community as being “shocked” and “stunned” and in a state of “bewilderment”. “We’re just very lost at the moment, in that we’re kind of waiting on the family to come onboard.
“We’re like an island, we don’t want to start doing things willy-nilly, and co- ordinate something,” he said.
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