NEW security measures have been put in place at a historic abbey to prevent further theft of ancient artefacts which were stolen last year.
Thieves equipped with an angle grinder removed a priceless relic – said to be part of the cross on which Jesus died – from Holycross Abbey.
The relic, which was contained in a gold and bronze cross with a glass centrepiece, was taken from a display case in the 12th-century abbey in October 2011.
The raiders also made off with a 12-inch-high silver cross.
However, the artefacts were returned to the Co Tipperary abbey at the start of the year, after gardai uncovered them during a search in the midlands.
Parish priest Fr Tom Breen told the Irish Independent that security measures were now in place to protect the artefacts.
"We were very lacking in security at the time. There wasn't even an alarm, but now the relics are in a high-security alcove, with shatterproof glass," he said.
They have been embedded in the special alcove which has been fitted with a steel framed door and triple-glazing. The display case is also alarmed.
The priest said the new security measures had cost the parish "a few euro" but that it was "expenditure that was well justified".
But every cloud has a silver lining. Fr Breen said the publicity surrounding the theft had provoked a lot of interest in the artefacts.
"Most people who come here now go to the reliquary straight away," he said.