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Thieves strip church roof of copper worth € 5,000

AN investigation has been launched after thieves stripped thousands of euro worth of copper from the roof of a church.

Realt na Mara church in Lettermullen, Co Galway, was damaged when raiders made their getaway with the copper sacristy roof.

An estimated €5,000 worth of copper was removed from the church without the raiders arousing the suspicions of locals.

Devastated parishioners uncovered the raid early on Thursday and gardai are appealing for witnesses to come forward.

The Realt na Mara church, which was refurbished in 1995, is one of four churches in the parish of An Ceathru Rua. It does not have a full-time parish priest of its own.

Fr Eamon O Conghaile, who is parish priest in An Ceathru Rua and regularly says Mass in the church, said the parish was stunned by what had taken place.

"This is an insult to the church and to the parish," he said.

"It is very upsetting and hurtful to a lot of people who put so much effort into making a nice church.

"Money was gathered from emigrants from America, England and all over the world to put on that roof.

"To see such a lack of respect that someone would take the roof off the house of God is really hard to take."

Galway gardai have appealed for the public's assistance in tracking down the raiders.

"A job like this must have taken a few hours to complete; there must be someone out there that can shed some light on the raid," said a garda spokesperson. "Hopefully, someone in the Lettermullen area spotted something or someone strange in the area on Wednesday night last.

"If they did, we appeal for them to come forward."

Garda have asked anyone with information to contact Salthill garda station on 091-514720.

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