There has been a surge for help to Ireland’s domestic violence service, Women’s Aid, following last week’s murder-suicide that claimed the lives of all five members of one family.

Women’s Aid director Margaret Martin said there was a very significant spike in the use of the service’s website, with hits going up from an average 460 to 700 a day.  There had also been a surge in calls to the 24-hour helpline.

“A tragedy like this is a shock to the whole country. People are trying to come to terms with it to see what the reasons are behind it,” Martin said.

“But for a significant group of women, there’s an additional worry in that they know that their children are being abused sometimes and that there can be very serious death threats.

“Our staff and volunteers on the 24-hour helpline are supporting women who are afraid of their partners and who have threatened to kill them, the kids or themselves. And their fears are founded on reality.”

School vice principal Alan Hawe murdered his wife Clodagh, also a teacher, and three sons aged from 13 to six. They were buried together in the one plot on Saturday after an agreement between both sets of relatives.

During his homily at Mass, Father Felim Kelly said the family had “played an amazing part in the life of their schools as teachers” and were “held in highest regard by colleagues, parents and children.”  He said the children were “gifted pupils, team players, budding leaders, warm friends.”

No reference was made during the homily to Alan Hawe having murdered his wife and the three boys.

“How could such goodness be destroyed? How could such happiness be invaded? How? Why? It is not for us to seek answers or to surmise about behavior. We are all trying to cope with a tragedy beyond our understanding,” Kelly said.

Gardai believe Hawe took his own life after killing his wife and children in their home at Oakdene, Barconey, outside Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan.

Hawe was reported to have had a history of mental difficulties.