Community keeps vigil amid fears vandals will return to attack church
A CLOSE-knit community is fearful of further acts of vandalism after their local church was damaged with paint and a derelict house set on fire.
Trouble flared in Ballinacurra Weston, Limerick, at 2am yesterday after two wandering horses were impounded by authorities.
It's understood rocks were also thrown at Limerick City Fire and Rescue crews who were called to the fire at the derelict house.
Vandals threw cans of different coloured paint at the main door of Our Lady of Lourdes church and a statue outside.
Local parish priest Fr Damian Ryan held back tears as he described arriving at his church which, he said, was targeted up to four times a year.
Three weeks ago windows were smashed at the church.
"I felt like crying when I saw it first, I couldn't believe it because we had just finished doing up this end of the church. It was just terrible," said Fr Ryan.
Situated in Ballinacurra Weston, once the stronghold of the McCarthy-Dundon criminal gang and an area earmarked for regeneration, Our Lady of Lourdes church was built in 1960.
A large black wooden structure, the church can seat up to 600 people and is a place of pride for a community that has suffered loss over the years as a result of gangland violence.
"It [the church] looked horrible, just horrible and was plainly visible from the road. It was dreadful," said Fr Ryan.
"To the people who did this I would say, you have achieved nothing. Look at the goodness of the community and join the goodness. Look at the kindness that has come out in your community, something that we should be very proud of.
"Your action wasn't something to be proud of but the kindness of people has been wonderful," he added.
At one stage over 50 volunteers, including young children, had gathered to help out with the clean-up operation.
Tommy Roche, Crecora Avenue, Ballinacurra, Weston, who painted the church just a few weeks ago was "sickened" when he got the call about the latest attack.
Last night local people planned to stay overnight to keep an vigil at the church.