A PARISH priest whose home was targeted by thieves while he said Mass fears that the perpetrators were waiting in the hedge for him to leave the house.
Fr William Hennessy,PP, Knocklong says he had only left the parochial home approximately five minutes – 10 minutes at most - before the thieves struck.
“Obviously they were outside in the field or behind the hedge when I was pulling out, possibly looking out for when I was leaving. I would say they were here – they must have been very close to the house,” he explained.
The intruders made various attempts to gain access to the property by trying the front door before going around the back of the house.
“There is a high enough wall around the back of the house – one of these old stone walls but that didn’t trouble them. They easily went in over it,” Fr Hennessy explained.
“They kicked the window at the back of the house and they forced that open. They had the window wide open but they didn’t actually get in. There was a blind on the window as well which might have slowed them down.”
The alarm was activated which alerted neighbours who reacted promptly.
Fr Hennessy became aware of the situation when he arrived home from Mass on Saturday evening to see members of the gardai and a number of neighbours at his house. “I’m very grateful to my neighbours for being so quick – they were excellent,” said Fr Hennessy. “There are a number of houses very near me and as soon as the alarm went off, they reacted. The intruders must have heard them because they took off. There was two of them I’m told - of medium height. They had hoods on and had scarves around their faces.”
The incident, Fr Hennessy said, has left him much more security conscious.
“The one good thing is they didn’t get in but even at that, you feel that your security has been threatened. When I pull into the yard now, I am conscious of looking around me. I would be a bit more careful even from now on.”
The attempted break-in is the latest attack on parochial homes in the county.
Two parochial homes were broken into in Hospital and Knockainey the previous weekend – on Saturday, January 5.
Fr Hennessy said priests have become a new target for thieves. “They know when we are not there and they are hitting us at that time. We have received a circular from the Diocesan Office and we don’t keep money in the houses any more. They wouldn’t have got money here. There is so much of it happening now, it would be a very foolish priest who would keep money in his house,” he said.
“A good security system is very important now and under no circumstances should you keep any cash in your house,” he warned.
Anyone who has information on any of the incidents or who may have seen anything suspicious can contact Bruff garda station on 061 382940. Gardai are also asking both Mass attendees and the clergy to be “very vigilant in terms of the security of their houses and also to be vigilant about where they park their cars when attending Mass.