This time of year usually brings both excitement and nervousness for children and their parents. This week is typically the culmination of a flurry of activity over the final weeks of August, as children prepare for a new term, a new class, perhaps a new school and new friends to be made.
This week though, the traditional back to school emotions have been tempered by the terrible, tragic events in Cavan. Our thoughts today are with three young boys who were due to start back at school with their friends; six-year-old Ryan, 11-year-old Niall, and 13-year-old Liam Hawe.
Their deaths, and the deaths of their parents Clodagh and Alan, are unbearably sad, as were the words of Assistant Garda Commissioner John O’Driscoll this week, “We believe all the answers are within that house.”
It’s the type of tragedy that makes you hug loved ones that little bit tighter, whether you knew those involved or not. It’s hard to imagine the feelings of the family, friends and local community in Ballyjamesduff this week. By all accounts, the Hawes were an average family, both parents were teachers preparing to go back to school, and the family attended a club match the day before their deaths, just like any other day.
They are a family who could have lived anywhere, and this is a tragedy that could, sadly, take place in any community. There have been 30 such murder-suicides in Ireland in the past 16 years, in which more than 40 children have been killed. Truly, no-one knows what goes on behind closed doors, and these sort of tragedies have, heartbreakingly, become more common in recent years.
As children go back to school this week, we think of those who are not.
Samaritans can be contacted 24/7 on 116-123.