An assistant principal of an elementary school in County Cavan went berserk stabbing his wife to death and then their three sons before knifing and killing himself.

The man named locally in Ballyjamesduff as Alan Hawe had been married fifteen years to wife Clodagh, also a teacher. They had three children, all boys, Liam (13), Niall (11), and Ryan (6). Hawe had pinned a note to the front door before killing himself warning whoever called to the police.

On Monday the bodies of the husband and wife were found downstairs, while the children’s bodies were located in upstairs bedrooms. Two of the children attended the school where their father taught.

There were distressing scenes in the rural townland when four hearses carrying the bodies were driven away.

"Wonderful children": A community in anguish at the loss of the Hawe family in Castlerahan

— (@thejournal_ie) August 29, 2016
Only on Sunday afternoon the Hawe family had attended the local Castleahan GAA Club to watch a match. The club had won and everyone was in high spirits. On Sunday evening the children were seen playing in the garden.

The circumstances surrounding the grizzly scene are, as yet, unclear. A security source told the Irish Mirror “One of two things happened: there was an incident or row, or it was planned.”

Local Bishop Leo O’Reilly expressed "heartfelt prayerful sympathy" to the Hawe family's relatives, friends and neighbors.

"The sudden loss of one young family, in such a shocking way, is unbearable and near impossible to comprehend.

“Especially now – as the new school year begins - my thoughts and prayers are with the school friends and the teachers of the children who have died in this family tragedy. May faith and friendship comfort and console them in their sadness.”

Assistant Garda Commissioner John O’Driscoll described the scene as “a grim discovery.” He said they knew who committed the crime.

“We can confirm that we are not looking for anybody else. We believe all the answers are within that house so, therefore, the most likely scenario that one person in that house may have caused the death of others,” he said.

Locals stated that Alan Hawe, in his 40s and a Kilkenny native, was a deputy principal at Castlerahan National School in Ballyjamesduff, where two of his children were pupils. Clodagh Hawe, in her 30s, was a teacher at Oristown National School in Kells, County Meath and was originally from the area.

Alan Hawe was well-known in the community and in GAA circles and served as treasurer of the local GAA club. The family was popular locally.

“They were wonderful children who will be greatly missed by all who knew them,” Castlerahan National School principal Anne Foley told The Irish Times yesterday. “Alan was a valued member of our school staff and community.

Oristown principal Ann O’Kelly Lynch said Clodagh “was a much loved and valued teacher in our school and will be greatly missed by all who knew her.”

Local Fine Gael councillor for Ballyjamesduff Paddy Smith said that the tragedy was “completely unbelievable.”

“As the news spread of it, for some time I just blocked it out of my mind that it couldn’t have happened. A family that were seemingly happy yesterday; and now five of them are dead; it just beggars belief.

“I was talking to a few of the local people here in the community and they are just rejecting the news because they are in such shock. They are totally numb and can’t get their heads around this particular event,” he said.

There has been a great outpouring of shock and sorrow from the nation. Here are just a few thoughts and messages from Twitter.

The First Minister of Northern Ireland tweeted:

The tragedy in Ballyjamesduff is too terrible for words. I will hug my three a little tighter tonight.

— Arlene Foster (@DUPleader) August 29, 2016

The Ballyjamesduff tragedy is beyond belief. It's hard to know what to say, except please never be afraid to reach out. @Samaritans 116 123.

— Donal O'Keeffe (@Donal_OKeeffe) August 29, 2016

Very sad to hear the tragic news of the deaths of a couple & their three children in Ballyjamesduff,Co. Cavan. #Heartbreaking

— Martin McGuinness (@M_McGuinness_SF) August 29, 2016

Tragic news. My thoughts are with the family of those lost & the community of Ballyjamesduff, Cavan.

— Ireland / Gary (@ireland) August 29, 2016