THE COMMUNITY of Southill rallied around a retired priest, whose car was stolen along with hundreds of euro, and abandoned in the area after vandals caused wanton destruction to the priest’s belongings.
A frequent visitor to the city, Fr John Clancy, 82, is based in Cork but regularly travels around the country with the Society of African Missions.
His car was stolen on William Street in the city recently, and it was later recovered in Southill that night, where it has been “completely cleaned out”.
A chalice and the priest’s vestments had also been in the vehicle when it was stolen, but local people mounted a search to return his belongings to him and found the items in an area of rubble.
Castleconnell doctor, Richard O’Flaherty, a friend of Fr Clancy, told the Limerick Chronicle the small chalice was found squashed and burned in a bonfire, but with careful restoration by JJ Kenneally’s jewellers in the city it is due to be returned to the priest nearly as good as new.
While the theft was announced at mass in Caherdavin a day later, Dr O’Flaherty said they wanted to let the community know that it has been recovered and that there are “some very good people in Southill.”
“We would really like to thank the people of Southill who helped and rallied around us,” said Dr O’Flaherty.
“We believe that it was not people from Southill who did this [stole his car].”
He and his son found the car, which was recovered by gardai and taken to the depot. They gained access to the car the following Monday, and it too has been repaired.
The doctor said having been in practice in Southill for years, locals took him to where the car was burnt out. “We went through the rubble and little by little we found his clothes and the chalice and other religious objects. Women and children, boys and girls, came up with us to root through the rubble. The priest was very shocked, but he said he’ll never again carry around that much money on him,” he added.
The chalice was restored by JJ Kenneally, who at 82 is the oldest jeweller in Limerick, and who invested more than 20 hours working on the piece. “It was in a shocking state. There was bits of rubber burned on to it. I’ve had a lot of well battered items in here, but I’ve never seen anything like this.”