Security fears over return of reliquary


AN “ELABORATE level of security” will be required before a rural church can once again house a sacred 12th-century shrine stolen last month.

St Manchán’s shrine was stolen from St Manchán’s church in Boher, Co Offaly on June 1st. It was recovered at Doon, Co Offaly, during an intelligence-led operation the following day.

Two men have since been charged in connection with the theft but the shrine remains in the custody of the Garda.

The ancient reliquary has great spiritual significance to the people of Boher and surrounding areas, where the saint’s feast day is celebrated annually on January 24th.

Built from yew and elaborately decorated in gilt bronze, it was constructed in Clonmacnoise to house the bones of St Manchán, a seventh-century saint who founded a monastery at nearby Lemanaghan.

Local priest Fr James MacKiernan met officials from the National Museum to discuss the possible return of the artefact.

Although no decision was reached, Fr MacKiernan said he was hopeful the artefact could be returned to its rightful home.

He acknowledged the security difficulties surrounding any potential return of the shrine.

An “elaborate level of security” would be a costly prerequisite to any possible return of the reliquary, he added.