PARISHIONERS are resigning themselves to the loss of an irreplaceable chalice stolen from the sacristy in Galbally recently.
The sacred vessel dating from the early 19th century was donated by local landholders, the Talbot family.
There has been no sign of it since entry was forced into the church on a Saturday night by burglars.
Despite its age, the chalice, silver coloured on the outside and golden on the inside of the cup, was in regular use at Masses.
On previous visits, criminals contented themselves with making off with oil from the church's central heating tank.
But on this occasion they took a slice of history which now appears to be lost forever.
In the immediate aftermath of the burglary,searches were carried out in the cemetery to check if it had been discarded there by the intruders - but with no luck.
Now the faithful of Galbally have fingers crossed that it still may come to light and that it has not been melted down.
'It's sad to see something like that gone,' said one member of the parish. 'Even if it was not valuable, it's part of our heritage.'
The missing piece may be easily recognised as it carries the following Latin inscription: 'Ora pro anima Anne E. Talbot obiit 5 Oct 1826'.
It commemorates the life of Anna Lisa Talbot who died in childbirth at the age of 27.
Her death prompted her heartbroken husband John Hyacinth Talbot to support the building of the church of Saint John the Baptist on land owned by his family.
The church was consecrated in 1828 and he completed his generosity with a donation of sacred vessels, including the missing chalice, and robes for priests celebrating Mass.
'It could yet turn up,' commented curate Father Matt Boggan who moved to the parish of Gorey since the theft occurred. 'They often do. Let's hope so.'