A GALWAY church which was left bare after the theft of valuable paintings has had to put up reproductions of the images after the trail went cold.
Six of the Stations of the Cross paintings were stolen from St Peter and Paul's Church in Kiltullagh last summer. As the only such items painted by Irish artist Evie Hone, they were of significant value. Despite offering a substantial reward for information, no calls were received.
The eight remaining works were removed following the robbery on June 22 to protect them.
Local parish priest Fr Michael McNamara said that while he and the congregation still held out some hope that the works would be returned, they had to accept that the paintings may never be recovered.
In a bid to fill the emptiness in the church, reproductions were made of the six missing pieces.
"Both myself and the congregation were delighted to have the images back up. The church had looked so empty it hit you every time you went in," Fr McNamara said.
The church is now considering whether it can rehang the remaining eight Evie Hone pieces.
"We don't want to run the risk of losing them but we would love to have them back in the church," he added.
The church has also erected CCTV in a bid to avoid any further thefts.
Gardai believe the theft was carried out by a professional gang and have alerted auction houses. Interpol is also assisting in the investigation.
Anybody with information can call Crimestoppers on 1800 250025.