The mother of a woman who was killed along with her three sons by her husband fought back tears as she recalled arriving at her daughter's home on the morning of the deaths.

At the inquest into the deaths of the Hawe family, Mary Coll, mother of Clodagh Hawe, said she found a note on the back door of the home, asking for gardaí to be called.

"I was just about to put the key in the door when I saw the note," she told the hearing.

"I knew it was Alan's handwriting. I knew that something terrible had happened. I just had that feeling."

Mr Hawe, a school deputy principal, his wife Clodagh, a teacher, and their three children, Liam, 13, Niall, 11, and six-year-old Ryan, were found dead in their home near Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, on the morning of Monday 29 August last year.

Mrs Hawe's mother told the inquest she had driven to her daughter's home after she did not turn up on time to drop two of her sons off.

A jury of six women and one man is hearing the inquest in Cavan courthouse.

Mrs Coll told the hearing that she did not go into the house. She rang 999 and then went to a neighbour.

"I told them I think Alan has done something terrible, that Alan had killed them all," Mrs Coll said.

"I knew it was Alan's handwriting."

At the opening of the hearing Coroner Mary Flanagan said: "This is a particularly emotive inquest."

The coroner said it was intended to establish four limited but factual questions - who the deceased were; when and where they died; and how they died.

Dr Flanagan also said that under the law the inquest is precluded from questioning civil or criminal liability.

Evidence from gardaí who were first to enter the Hawe family home at Oakdene in the townland of Barconey, revealed that Mrs Hawe was found lying face down in her pyjamas and dressing gown on the sitting room sofa.

There was a pool of blood, the inquest was told.

Mr Hawe was found in the hall.

The inquest was told Liam and Niall were found in their beds in the upstairs room they shared.

Garda Aisling Walsh broke down and wiped away tears as she recalled the scene.

"They had no signs of life," she told the hearing.

"They had their duvets on them."

Ryan was found alone in his bedroom and also had a duvet over him.

The coroner told Garda Walsh: "Nobody can imagine what it was like that morning."

Gardaí also told the hearing that in the master bedroom a number of jewellery boxes were neatly piled on the centre of the bed.

Downstairs, as well as the white envelope taped to the inside window of the back door, a number of notes were found by gardaí, all of which were written by Mr Hawe, the inquest was told.

The inquest has been adjourned until tomorrow.


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