Monday 23 July 2018

'It broke our hearts' - Church 'completely destroyed' by vandals

Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

A Church of Ireland church in the West of Ireland has been completely destroyed in an act of “utter vandalism”.

Extensive damage, running to tens of thousands of euro, was carried out at the Errislannan Church in Clifden.

The altar rail was ripped from its fixings and all of the pews were ripped from the ground. The Church organ and replacement organ were completely destroyed and the pulpit was split in two.

All the windows were broken and a cross was pulled from the wall. All electrical fittings were also destroyed. The Church bible was thrown through the window and discovered on the ground outside.

The Very Reverend Stan Evans, who leads services at the church, said the level of destruction “beggars belief”.

“I was at a hospital appointment in Galway when I got a phonecall from a parishioner telling me we had suffered serious vandalism. When I arrived back I didn’t believe what I was seeing. It was just utter and complete destruction,” he told independent.ie

Rev Evans said he believed from the extent of damage that there was more than one vandal.

“There is just too much damage for one person. The cross was pulled off the wall and I believe it was used to smash the organ, it’s the only thing that could have caused that damage.

“The saddest thing is the parishioners. The building was dearly cherished but it is the parishioners who are deeply affected by this. We have a 92-year-old parishioner and that church has been her life and she is just devastated,” he added.

Rev Evans said the entire community was rallying around the congregation and he made a commitment that the church would reopen for services next summer.

“We will have a lot of work to do but we will get the church open again for service next summer. It just broke our hearts.

“I want to stress we have the most wonderful ecumenical spirit in the community. I work with the parish priest as one. We do everything together. They will be as heartbroken by this as we are,” he added.

The damage was discovered on Monday. The Church is a popular place of reflection for visitors to Clifden and remains open throughout the year. Services are held there in July and August.

The Church of Ireland Bishop of Tuam, the Right Reverend Patrick Rooke said he is horrified by  a devastating attack on a sacred place.

Clifden gardaí are investigating the criminal damage.

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