PRAYERS are being said for the return of five paintings worth more than €25,000, which were stolen from a church.
The religious paintings, by renowned artist the late Fr Jack Hanlon, had been hanging in the Holy Rosary church on the Ennis Road in Limerick for more than 50 years.
But it has emerged that last week – some 20 minutes after a local parish priest left the church – a thief with a newspaper covering his face entered the church and cut the five paintings out of their frames.
Chief Superintendent Dave Sheahan of Henry Street garda station in the city said they were appealing for the public's assistance in this case, and would be circulating images of the stolen works to alert the public, art dealers and any potential buyers.
"People are very shocked, as indeed am I," said Fr William Walsh.
"It's a dreadful and very unfortunate thing to happen.
"We would wish to have them back. It's very rare that something like this would occur," said Fr Walsh.
Measuring about 3ft long by 5ft wide, the works were valued at €5,000 each when assessed by a local evaluator in 2010.