Vandalised monument returns to Limerick city church

Owen Hickey

Reporter:

Owen Hickey

LIMERICK churchgoers welcomed back a 400-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary to a city church after it was damaged in a vandalism attack in February.

LIMERICK churchgoers welcomed back a 400-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary to a city church after it was damaged in a vandalism attack in February.

A special blessing of the Our Lady of Limerick statue took place in the Dominican Church on Glentworth Street last Friday to celebrate its return.

The statue is now protected by a glass casing to prevent any repeat of February’s attack.

Fr Jordan O’ Brien expressed his happiness upon seeing the statue return to the church.

“We’re delighted to have it back, as are the people. It has huge historical significance given it came from the first siege of Limerick in 1640.

“The attack was very bad, but the statue is back in its original place and is shrined the same,” Fr O’ Brien said.

In February’s attack, the timber statue – brought to Limerick in 1640 – was pulled off the wall and smashed to pieces.

As the statue is made from timber, as opposed to plaster, it was possible to carry out a repair of the monument.

All the sections of the venerable statue were carved separately. This resulted in the repair procedure being a lengthy process as the pieces had to be worked on separately.

Repairs were carried out on the statue by Randel Hodkinson, of J Hodkinson and Sons Ecclesiastical Decorators, who collected the statue for repair in his Henry Street workshop and restored it to its original condition.

It was the third attack on the religious icon, which was given to Fr Terence Albert O’Brien, Prior of the Old St Saviour’s Church, and survived the persecution during Cromwell’s times.

After being donated to Fr O’Brien, the Our Lady of Limerick statue lay hidden during the persecution - kept watch on by devotees.

The first attack took place when the statue’s neck was cracked after someone tried to topple it with a rope. Shortly after, in 2004, its gold crown and rosary beads were broken off.