The sister of Clodagh Hawe, who was killed along with her three children by her husband Alan, has told how she “cried with relief” after his body was exhumed from the family grave.
Alan Hawe was found dead along with his wife Clodagh and their children Liam, 13, Niall, 11, and Ryan, six, in their house in Co Cavan last August.
Gardai believe Mr Hawe, originally from Co Kilkenny, killed his wife and children in their home at Oakdene, Barconey, near Ballyjamesduff, before taking his own life.
All five were buried together in St Mary’s churchyard in Castlerahan.
On Wednesday morning at dawn, Alan Hawe’s body was exhumed and removed from the cemetery.
In an emotional interview with BBC News NI, Jacqueline Connolly paid tribute to her older sister Clodagh and her nephews who died in the tragedy.
“I used to call her the golden girl. In my eyes, she never put a foot wrong. She was just lovely. She was always very level headed, more so than me,” she said.
“The kids, growing up, were so respectful and all talented in different ways. Liam was athletic, Niall was into building Lego and baking. When Ryan was telling you a story his eyes would be dancing in his head - he was so full of life.”
Jacqueline said her family had made the request for Mr Howe’s body to be exhumed and had been waiting over seven months for it to be done.
She added: “I was there when it happened. And as he left the cemetery, the sun broke through the clouds and I cried with relief that he was gone.”
“At least Clodagh and the boys can rest in peace now that he has gone, thank God.”
In a statement to BBC News NI, the family of Mr Hawe said that they had agreed to a request from Clodagh’s mother and sister to have his body exhumed.
They said they had not previously been involved in the decision as to where their son was buried.
They referred to the “devastating losses “ that they had suffered of their son, grandchildren and daughter-in-law, and added that they hoped that both families would now be left in peace.
The circumstances surrounding the tragedy in 2016 will be the subject of an inquest later this year.