Family of murdered Clodagh speak out in RTE special tonight

Story by Sally Harding

Monday, 25th February, 2019 12:34pm

Family of murdered Clodagh speak out in RTE special tonight

'Her name is Clodagh' airs this evening on RTE1

The family of a Cavan woman who was brutally murdered in her home along with her three young children is set to give a candid TV interview tonight revealing the truth behind the tragedy that shocked the nation.  

An RTE Claire Byrne Live special, 'Her Name Is Clodagh'  will feature interviews from the mother and sister of Clodagh Hawe (39), a teacher in Oristown National School in Kells who was murdered by Alan Hawe in the family home near Ballyjamesduff on August 28 2016. The couple’s children, Liam (13), Niall (11) and Ryan (6) also died after being attacked by their father, who then took his own life, on the last day of the school holidays.

The programme name references the social media backlash over the initial media coverage of the case, which was criticised for focusing on the killer and not on his victims and portraying him as a "pillar of the community"  through his job as a deputy school principal and his links to the church and the GAA.

Public outrage ensued and ‘her name is Clodagh’ began trending on social media in response to the lack of coverage of the real victims.

Clodagh’s mother Mary Coll and sister Jacqueline Connolly have agreed to take part in the documentary saying they wanted to remember her for being  “a mother, a sister, a daughter, a teacher and a friend”.

Explaining the reasons behind the family's decision to speak out the programme-makers say, 

"Clodagh's mother Mary and her sister Jacqueline want Clodagh and her boys to be remembered as they were. 13-year-old Liam loved basketball and was just hitting his adolescence with a bang, Niall was 11 and loved building Lego and wanted to open a bakery in Virginia in Cavan, and Ryan, at 6, was still happy to jump into his Granny's arms for cuddles. 

Clodagh was a woman who lived for her family, and her mother says she told her that her only fault was putting everyone else ahead of herself. Remembering them was one of the reasons why Jacqueline and Mary wanted to do an interview about what happened on that night in 2016."

In tonight's special Clodagh's mother Mary remembers the last time she saw her daughter and grandchildren alive. In what was a very normal Sunday evening, the family visited Mary's house where they had tea and biscuits and the boys had crisps and watched television. Mary wished Alan luck as he was due back at Castlerahan National School, where he was vice-principal, the next morning. 

Mary had told Niall that they would go picking blackberries the next day to make a crumble, and at about 8.40pm, the family decided to go home and they hugged goodbye. 

The next morning, Mary, concerned that Clodagh had not dropped the two youngest off at her house as promised, called and texted the couple’s mobiles. With no response, she decided to call to the house where she saw the curtains closed. She went around the back and that was when she found a note that read, “Please do not come in. Please call the gardaí."

Nobody could have predicted the horror that was to follow. Unanswered questions still haunt Clodagh's family and a commitment to highlighting the tragedy to prevent such a devastating event happening to another family is what drove the heartbroken sister and mother to appear on tonight's show. 

"Mary and Jacqueline still don't know why those four innocent people were murdered in their own home - why the boys were killed so brutally in their beds or why Clodagh was attacked with an axe in her sitting room as she sat researching holidays online for the next summer," says Claire Byrne, adding, 

"Alan Hawe left a note, but it only provides clues as to why he did what he did - it's not the full picture, and Mary and Jacqueline believe that the gaps can and should be filled by those who may have more information about him and who he really was."

"Mary and Jacqueline are private people. They didn't want to do a television interview about the horrors that visited their family that night, but they felt that they had to. The issues that compelled them are the need to remember Clodagh and boys, their continuing search for answers and a sense of wanting to protect other women who may be vulnerable and in danger tonight."

'Her Name Is Clodagh' is their story and it will air on a Claire Byrne Live special on RTE One on Monday night at 10.35pm.

Anyone affected by issues raised in this article can contact:

Samaritans on 116 123
Pieta House on 1800 247 247
Childline on 1800 66 66 66, or text "support" to 50101
Women's Aid on 1800 341 900