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Hawe family visited Clodagh's mother the night before the murder-suicide

 Clodagh Hawe's mother Mary Coll (left) and sister Jacqueline Connelly arrive at Cavan Court House for the inquest into the deaths of the Hawe family last year. Picture by Niall Carson, PA
Ed Carty, Press Association

Everything appeared normal the evening before the murder-suicide shattered the Hawe and Coll families.

Mary Coll, whose daughter Clodagh was killed with her three boys, spent an hour or so chatting with son-in-law Alan Hawe after the family dropped in for a cup of coffee on a Sunday evening.

There was only one hint of unhappiness - it was the end of August and Alan Hawe, principal of Castlerahan National School in Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, was not looking forward to going back to school.

Earlier that day Liam, the eldest of the Hawe sons, had won a basketball match in Virginia, Co Cavan.

The family arrived at Mrs Coll's after 7pm on Sunday August 28 and the husband and wife sat in the kitchen having coffee and biscuits while the boys sat in the sitting room watching television.

"Everything seemed normal," Mrs Coll told the inquest into their deaths.

Visibly distressed at having to relive the tragedy, the grieving mother and grandmother had to take a minute to compose herself before she began to give evidence.

She told the hearing in Cavan courthouse that her daughter and family left her home at about 8.40pm.

"Ryan had to have a bath," she said.

"Clodagh said she would see me in the morning when she would drop Niall and Ryan over."

Clodagh Hawe 

Mrs Coll only gave evidence for a matter of minutes, giving the jury a glimpse into the last time anyone in the family saw her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren alive.

The picture she painted of herself was that of a doting mother and grandmother.

"When they were leaving then I hugged them, I kissed them and said goodbye," she said.

Mrs Coll said she had shown some concern for Mr Hawe, who was due at school for a meeting the following morning.

"I said good luck going back to school," she said.

"He was not looking forward to going back and he said thanks for the goodies (referring to biscuits)."

Mrs Coll said she discovered the tragedy the following morning at the Hawe home in Oakdene Downs, Barconey, near Ballyjamesduff, after her daughter failed to arrive as planned at around 8.30am.

"She said not to worry if she was a little late," her mother said.

"On Monday morning I was watching for Clodagh but she didn't arrive. It must have been after 9am."

Her daughter's lateness prompted Mrs Coll to start making phone calls and leaving messages, including on her son-in-law's phone.

"I texted Alan, 'Is everything OK? Clo has not arrived yet'," she said.

Her daughter's mobile phone was going to answerphone, the inquest heard.

"It was not like my Clodagh not to contact me," she said.

Read more: Her name was Clodagh. She was a victim, her killer was not

Hawe family inquest: Alan Hawe may have killed his wife and eldest son first 'for fear they would fight back'

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Some time after 9am Mrs Coll drove to her daughter's house and saw both cars in the drive.

Alongside the signs of a normal family home, the curtains in the front rooms were still closed.

Mrs Coll then told how she found a bloodstained note on the back door as she went to use a key she carried.

She followed the instructions and called gardai.

Mrs Coll left the jury with the image of her standing on the road waiting for officers to arrive, being comforted by neighbours, with a feeling that "something terrible" had happened.

"The rest you know," she said.

The hearing was adjourned until Tuesday.

The funeral of Clodagh Hawe and her sons. Picture by Brian Lawless, Press Association

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