A Week Later

It has been a week since the terrible tragedy in Cavan occurred. The Hawe family were laid to rest at the weekend but the events surrounding their deaths still continue to send shock waves through their own community as well as around the country.

The controversial decision to bury all of the family members together in one plot upset many people. Social media was full of people expressing their distress at the idea of a murderer and his victims sharing the same burial plot. Indeed, from the outside, it seems almost incomprehensible that this should happen. However, we forget in all this the extended family who are still alive, who have had to make these awful decisions, who have had to bury three small members of their family. These families have shown a united front to the world. Perhaps they know more than we do. Whatever truths will emerge in the coming days and weeks, I do not think it right to judge what we cannot understand. To me the grief that they bear is beyond my comprehension. I don’t even know where they find the strength.

The campaign to make Clodagh Hawe more of a visible presence in the coverage surrounding her own death can only be a good thing. Many women live their lives in fear due to abusive and controlling partners; perhaps this campaign will help them to come forward. We don’t yet know what exactly happened in the Hawe house but domestic abuse does seem to be a strong possibility.

I was listening to a discussion around this topic on WLR fm yesterday morning. A woman, whose name I didn’t catch, believed that people were determined to defend Alan’s reputation; that they didn’t want his image tarnished by the murders which will now always define his life. I don’t believe this is the case. Yes we heard repeated reports of the gentleness and goodness of this man but I do not think these were statements made in defence. Rather, I believe, they were statements made by people in complete and utter shock. This man had lived amongst them, by all accounts he had been a leading member of the community; who then could believe he would be capable of murdering his own family? I believe the people who spoke to the press and gave these glowing reports were people numbed by disbelief. I do not think they cared about protecting a man’s status, I think they couldn’t accept that such a thing could happen to a family that they knew. All they could grasp hold of were things they believed were true; that Alan was a good man. Furthermore, we must remember that this man had been the Vice-Principal of the local school. I’m sure many parents don’t want to believe he was a monster.

There is a lot of grief, shock, upset and despair in the community of Ballyjamesduff. It will take a long time to work through. For now people are just trying to make sense of what occurred. I send anyone affected by this tragedy my heartfelt sympathies.

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