A FAMILY have made a heartbreaking appeal for thieves to return two engraved watches given by a dying father to his children.
Stephen Carroll (38), who passed away last November following a battle with kidney cancer, was given the items for his 21st and his 30th birthdays.
He had them engraved for two of his young sons just a week before he died.
His family have been left in shock after the Omega watches were stolen during a raid on Stephen's parents' house in Blackrock, Co Louth, over the weekend.
His heartbroken family, still grieving his loss, are appealing for the watches to be returned.
One of the watches is an Omega Constellation with a silver face. On the back the message, "To Keelan love Daddy x" is engraved.
The second watch is an Omega Seamaster with a blue face. Engraved on the back is, "To Senan love Daddy x".
Stephen's parents were not at home when the burglars struck.
"The watches are of no resale value because they have been engraved with the personal messages to Stephen's sons," said Stephen's sister- in-law Kerrie Carroll.
"But they are of huge sentimental value to us as a family, and we urge whoever took them to give them back," she added.
"I don't know what people do when this happens. They could leave them somewhere where they would be found - a church, a priest, a shop, anywhere - but please, don't throw them away," Kerrie pleaded.
"We will ask no questions at all. We just need to get the watches.
"We are appealing to the consciences of whoever took them to please realise how important they are to us."
Stephen discovered 18 months ago that he was seriously ill with kidney cancer and spent a lot of time thinking about what special gifts he could leave for his sons.
"He finally settled on the watches and we did a rush job to get them engraved just days before Stephen died, and he was delighted when he saw them," explained Kerrie.
"The boys didn't know they were going to get them.
"They were being kept safe by their grandparents, but now they have discovered they are gone and found out they were going to be theirs, they are devastated," she added.
Other belongings were taken during the burglary, but the watches are the only items that the Carroll family are concerned about.
"We are asking anyone who might be offered two watches to let us know, and any jeweller or pawnbroker who might see them to tell us," Kerrie said.