School principal threatened with screwdriver during robbery

Robbery took place during management board meeting at primary school in Longford

The robbery took place at a board of management meeting at St Joseph’s National School in Longford.

The robbery took place at a board of management meeting at St Joseph’s National School in Longford.


A school principal has spoken of her “utter fear and trepidation” when a masked raider held a screwdriver to her throat during a robbery at a Longford primary school last year.

Orla Egan told a sitting of Longford Circuit Criminal Court on Friday that the incident took place during a board meeting at St Joseph’s National School in the town on August 27th, 2020.

James Cranny (38), Meadow Crest, Boyle, Co Roscommon, pleaded guilty to six counts of robbery, attempted robbery and the production of a screwdriver.

The court heard victim-impact statements from Ms Egan and three other members of the board of management, who had met to discuss the school’s Covid-19 response plan.

These included local solicitor and board chairman Frank Gearty, who had a total of €135 taken from him, the court heard, after Cranny stormed into the building shouting: “This is not a joke, I want €800.”

A further €100 was taken from fellow board member Beatrice Shanley, who said she had struggled to move on from the events of August 27th last.

“I can never erase the horror of our principal’s face as she realised what was happening,” she said. “The menacing look in his eyes terrified me.”

Cranny, who has more than 140 previous convictions, read out letters of apology to each of his alleged victims, including local priest Fr James McKiernan.

Defence counsel Dara Foynes SC said her client was someone who had endured a “wretched” life and had been in and out of prison most of his adult life. She said Cranny was “out of it” having consumed almost 80 sleeping and Valium tablets before he was found sitting on a wall moments after the incident.

Judge Keenan Johnson described the incident as an “appalling” act against a vulnerable set of volunteers who are the “unsung heroes” of the State’s education system. Cranny was remanded in custody until next Thursday for sentencing.