Alan Hawe murdered his wife and three children in one of the most horrific crimes in Ireland in recent decades. Now the family of his slain wife are speaking out.
They were the murders that shocked the Irish nation and indeed the world. A Deputy School Principal, a much-respected member of the community, murdered his wife and three children in a brutal slaying at their home near Ballyjamesduff, in County Cavan.
Clodagh Hawe (39) and her sons, Liam (13), Niall (11) and Ryan (6) were killed by their husband and father, Alan Hawe (40), in August 2016. Hawe then hung himself.
Now for the first time Clodagh’s mother, Mary Coll, and sister, Jacqueline Connolly, have spoken out on the killer, his reasons for the mass murder and the dark secrets he hid that lay behind the killings. Mary and Jacqueline were interviewed on the “Claire Byrne Live” special, on Irish television, on Monday night (Feb 25).
They revealed shocking details of the crime and appealed for a murder inquiry to be reopened as so much remains unknown.
What has emerged is a portrait of a deeply controlling husband who rarely left his wife out of his sight, a cross-dresser who liked to wear his wife’s underwear, a heavy watcher of porn who likely had been discovered masturbating to porn in his school, an event that apparently sent him over the edge.
Here are extracts from the “Claire Byrne Live” interview:
Warning: This interview contains graphic content including descriptions of violent crime
On Alan Hawe’s controlling manner
Jacqueline: I do remember saying to Clodagh at once stage, you know, that she had changed. She used to go out socializing and she used to go out for a few drinks, and he didn’t drink so she stopped drinking and changed in that perspective, and it seemed, you know, wherever she was, he was you know.
Claire: So, it was an all-consuming relationship.
Mary: If we sat having a cup of tea he would sit until I would go, and we never really got time to have a conversation together. But that’s the way it was.
Claire: And when she came to your house Mary, would he come with her?
Mary: Oh, he would always.
On his porn obsessions
Mary: Then in February 2016, Clodagh rang me one evening in February and she said, “Can I talk to you?” and I said “Of course Clodagh. She said, “I’m parked outside, I’ll go in.”
So, she came in and she said to me “You know” she said to me “Alan has been watching porn.” She said, “He has told me this.”
Claire: And do you know why he told her?
Mary: Probably out of a guilt complex. I think he used to do it and then he’d feel guilty and he felt to ease his conscience and maybe to get her permission, or whatever. But I know that it was affecting their relationship.
… So, he was going to counseling and then an issue arose in the school, so his counseling sessions went from dealing with his porn addiction to his issues at school.
On his problems at his school and the last night before he killed them
The Hawes family had come to Clodagh’s mother Mary’s house for tea.
Mary: it was a normal conversation. He was due back at work the next day and he didn’t want to go back. So, at twenty to nine, Clodagh looked at the clock and she said, “Alan we better go home now because Ryan has to have a bath”.
Ryan and Niall didn’t have school, so they were coming to me and we were going to pick blackberries and we were going, Niall was going to make blackberry and apple crumble. When they left, we hugged, we said, “I love you”, we always did that, and I said to Alan, I said, “good luck tomorrow” and he said, “Thanks Mary, thanks for the goodies” and I never saw them again.
On the murders
Mary: I sat the next morning and I waited for Clodagh to drop the boys off and I looked out the window and I sat down, and I got up and I kept thinking “what is wrong” because if Clodagh, if she was going to be five minutes late, she’d let you know.
I rang her phone, there was no reply. I rang the house phone. I rang his phone. I text Clodagh. I text him “where is Clo, she hasn’t arrived yet” and eventually, I don’t know how long had passed, I got into the car but at that stage my stomach was sick, I knew.
I drove over that road, it was the longest journey I ever drove, and it was only five miles, and I remember seeing the magpies on the road.
And I said, “Please God, don’t let anybody else be dead.” And I drove up to the house and I saw the curtains all drawn and the two cars and I thought there is something terribly wrong. And then I thought maybe it’s carbon monoxide poisoning, the five of them couldn’t have slept in.
So, I had a key to their back door, and I ran round the back and I had the key in my hand, and I was just about to put it in the lock, and I looked and I saw the note on the door. And it read “Don’t come in, call the gardaí.” And I knew it was his writing.
And I went out on the road and I let the phone fall and I tried to dial 999 about ten times but I couldn’t. Eventually, I got through and I went to Clodagh’s neighbor and I said to her “Edie”, I said, “I think Alan has done something terrible”. And she said to me “What Mary?”. I said, “I don’t know but I think he’s done something terrible”. And the two of us went round to the back door and she said to me “Mary, please don’t go in” and I said “No Edie, I’m not going to go in” because I knew, I just knew, in the pit of my stomach, I just knew that if I went in, I would never be able to live again. And the guards came, two guards came, and they told me to go into Edie’s house and stay with Edie and I don’t know how long I was there and eventually, they came in and they just stood there. The male guards said to me “We found five bodies, there’s nobody alive.”
Jacqueline: He killed the people first that would be deemed well able to stand up to him. The ax that he killed Clodagh with was always kept in the shed outside so we know that at some stage before the time that he killed Clodagh he had brought it into the house.
He had already moved the furniture that Clodagh would have her back to him as he walked into the sitting room.
We know that Clodagh was online looking up holidays at the time and she was having a cup of tea. He came in behind her and he hit her in the head with the ax and he stabbed her in the back, and she put up her hand to defend herself and he basically nearly sawed her hand off.
He killed her like he hated her. He didn’t need to use two weapons, he killed her with such brutality, it was evil.
He took up a new knife and he went upstairs and he, we know he put his knee on Liam’s chest and cut through his windpipe to render him silent, so Niall was sharing a room with Liam so Niall probably wouldn’t have woken up because Liam couldn’t scream out, but he had defensive wounds on his hands.
He did the same to Niall and then he went to Ryan’s room. Ryan was the smallest of the three of them, he was very slight and thin for his age but during the inquest, we were told that he used a sawing action on Ryan and that he just threw the duvet cover over all of them and left the knife that he used on Ryan’s pillow.
That is evil. That is not depression.
On the letter he wrote
Reading the letter, it would seem that he killed Clodagh first and he sat, and he wrote five pages about how he felt, and how the truth was going to come out eventually and he reassured us that if it was any consolation that they were happy. And he then killed the boys and he came downstairs then, and he wrote some more. And then he transferred money and he went about his business while his family were dead around him and he set out folders and wrote notes.
Claire: Just when you say he transferred money, just explain what you mean by that?
Jacqueline: At about half two that morning, he transferred about two and half thousand euro from the joint account to his own account so at that point, he was a criminal and then he was fraudulently transferring money. And then he obviously put the note on the back door, and he laid Clodagh’s jewelry on the bed upstairs.
Why he did it
Mary: He has said in his own words that he was caught red-handed and we do know that he was looking at pornography on the school laptop and he never brought the school laptop home. We’ve had sight of the counseling notes and he had said he was masturbating somewhere that he shouldn’t have been, possibly at the school. So, we have pieces of information, but we don’t know who caught him.
... Yes, he kind of said that it was easier for them to die than to have to live with the truth of what he was doing. Clodagh didn’t know and it would be easier for her to die than to know the truth about him.
Claire: And the frustrating torturous thing for you is that you still don’t fully know what he was talking about. Is that right?
Mary: But he did say that the counselor knows everything, the counselor he was attending, he knows everything. Isn’t that what he said Jacqueline?
Jacqueline: He said the counselor knows the rest. We don’t know why, after a full investigation, we’re left with these questions. We’ve requested the files from the gardaí, and they’ve declined that request from our legal representative. But we feel that an injustice has been done to Clodagh and the boys.
Clodagh was sitting on the couch looking up holidays on her laptop and the boys were innocently asleep in their beds and they should not have died the way they died. And we feel that we need the truth, we need to know why they died, out of respect for them but to be able to have some peace of mind, we need these answers.
Mary: And those four innocent people that we miss so much and dearly should still be alive, living their lives to the full. He had the illusion that they couldn’t manage their lives without him, they couldn’t live without him but that was how he perceived himself, that’s how important he thought he was.
Dressing in wife’s underwear
Mary: We do know now that we didn’t at the time that he was dressing in Clodagh’s underwear. I mean Clodagh would never ever in her wildest dreams have thought of that, none of us would. We only found that out after the inquest. He said as well when I go back to school it will all blow up. What we don’t know. Was he going to face a grievance? If he was masturbating in the school well at the very least, he was guilty of professional misconduct. That was at the very least.
Claire: But nothing has ever come of that and you’ve never found out what was going on in his work life.
Jacqueline & Mary: No.
Going to the grave
Claire: Do you go to the grave?
Mary: I do, I go maybe once-twice a week. I just sit, I just can’t believe they’re there. I don’t get any comfort, I can’t pray, I can’t talk to them, I just, it’s easier not to believe that they’re gone. You know. It’s hell. It’s the only way you can describe it.
Finding the truth
Mary: We know that he said in his letter that the truth was going to come out and he had thought about taking his own life, but he didn’t want to be left retarded or worse, Clodagh finding out the truth and we don’t know what that truth is. We have asked in the last number of weeks for the file of the investigation from the gardaí, we’ve been refused that. Nothing in this country is going to change if we just throw a blanket of the inquest, a blanket of depression, and Clodagh, Liam, Niall and Ryan, their file is in a filing cabinet now with reference numbers and we still don’t know why.
Claire: This man was in your lives for over 20 years, but you didn’t know him.
Jacqueline & Mary: No.
Mary: We just need answers to the questions. You know, he was caught, who caught him, what was he doing, where was he doing it, why did he feel the need that he had to wipe out his whole family, what was so bad that he was doing?