A PARISH priest has expressed his shock and disappointment after thieves broke into the local church sacristy on Christmas Day before making off with €5,000.
The majority of the money, it is understood, was made up of Christmas dues.
“It is shocking, absolutely. Nothing is sacred any more,” said Fr Joseph Shire, PP of Ballyagran.
According to gardai, the break-in at Ballyagran Church took place between the hours of 12.30pm on Christmas Day and 9am on St Stephen’s Day.
The last Mass on Christmas Day was celebrated at 11am and the parish sacristan made the discovery prior to 10am Mass on Stephen’s Day morning.
“The rear sacristy door was forced open along with the internal door of the church. Drawers in the sacristy were ransacked. There was a safe removed to the rear of the church where it was subsequently located,” said a garda spokesperson.
The thieves, the garda explained, made off with €5,000 made up of assorted coins, notes and cheques. There was also criminal damage caused amounting to €500.
Fr Shire who has enjoyed nine Christmases in Ballyagran said it was the first time the church had been targeted in such a fashion.
The incident, he said, was a eye opener for people in terms of security particularly in light of the closure of rural garda stations.
“It has been our first experience of something like this in this church since I came out of town. People have to be aware that there is an increase in burglaries. We have lost our garda station in Castletown. It is one of the rural garda stations closing down. We have to be more security aware and security conscious from now on especially when people can get out on Christmas night to do something like that. The boundaries have broken down,” he said
The gardai are following a line of enquiry.
Meanwhile, Bruff gardai are investigating a break in to a house in Cregane, Charleville.
Thieves gained entry by smashing a rear window some time during the evening of Sunday, December 23 and the early morning of Monday, December 24.
A sum of cash, jewellery and spirits were stolen.
Bruff gardai are appealing for anyone who may have noticed the driver of a car acting suspiciously, or parked unusually on the side of the N20 - main Limerick to Cork Road - in the townsland of Cregane to contact the station on 061-382940.