Up to €10,000 worth of damage was done to a church in Killermogh, near Abbeyleix last month.
Rocks and sticks were thrown at the windows of the 200 year old Church of Ireland church, smashing “fist sized holes” through priceless stained and coloured glass. The vandalism was discovered by a parishoner who was visiting a family grave on Friday, July 20, and Abbeyleix Gardaí were then alerted.
Reverend Canon Patrick Harvey said he had never seen anything like it happen before. He was away during the attack and was shocked on his return days later to see it.
“This has come out of the blue. We have had damage in other churches, but never so extensively. The stones were thrown so hard they damaged the leadwork, there were fist sized holes. It will be a very specialised and expensive job to repair it, We had a stained glass expert in to do a survey and we are waiting for a quotation, but I believe it will be between €5,000 and €10,000,” he said.
They are awaiting advice on how to cover the five damaged windows.
“Because of the nature of the glass, if we use the wrong materials we could damage them further,” he explained.
The church is in good repair and is used for Sunday service by the local community, one of whom is Robin Talbot.
“It’s the first time anything like that has happened. This was just vandalism,” he said.
It was not an attempt to break into the church he believes, as the windows smashed were high up.
Following their investigation, Abbeyleix Gardaí now say they have suspects for the vandalism, children of a Traveller family who had been parked across the road from the church.
“The parents were approached and they admitted it, they said they were away for the day. They agreed to pay for the damage,” a spokesperson said.
The family normally live in a house in Laois, and were travelling in their caravan for the traditional summer season.
They were moved on after the incident, but Gardaí have retained their details.