Galway church 'completely desecrated' by vandals

Interior of Church of Ireland building on Errislannan peninsula completely destroyed

 

Up to €70,000 may be needed to repair a rural Co Galway church that was extensively damaged by vandals in the last week.

The Church of Ireland building on the remote Errislannan peninsula in Connemara, which is mainly used during the summer months, was subjected to a calculated attack, said Canon Stan Evans, who is charge of the parishes of Errislannan, Clifden, Roundstone and Moyard.

Canon Evans said the interior of the Holy Trinity Church had been ruined, with windows smashed, electrics ripped out of the walls, and the pulpit, pews and organ all destroyed.

I cannot see what possible gain might be achieved by those responsible

“This is the worst experience I have ever had during my ministry, it’s horrendous,” he said. “It was absolutely stupid vandalism but when you look at it, it was calculated. Every pew was turned over and smashed. Everything that was special in the place has been completely desecrated.”

Hanging off its hinges

Canon Evans said he did not know exactly when the church was vandalised but that it was “within the last three or four days”. The damage was noticed at lunchtime on Wednesday by a parishioner, who had come to open the building and found the door hanging off its hinges.

“There is a large church bible which was flung out through the east end window. If it had been outside for a long time it wouldn’t have been in the condition that it is,” Canon Evans said. “But whoever has done this, with the damage that has been done it would have taken more than one person.”

Gardaí at Clifden have appealed for witnesses to contact them about the incident in Errislannan, which is some 85km from Galway City.

The church has up to 30 regular parishioners and hosts evening services during July and August.

‘Horrified and saddened’

Church of Ireland Bishop of Tuam Rev Patrick Rooke said he was “horrified and saddened by the wanton destruction” at the church. “I cannot see what possible gain might be achieved by those responsible,” he said.

Despite the setback for the parish, Canon Evans said the community would defy those who damaged their church.

“This is only the material, the people are the most important thing,” he said, adding that church would “most definitely” be up and running again for next summer.

“We work together as one community. We are absolutely at one with our Catholic neighbours. The parish priest, Fr James Ronayne, stands completely beside us. We do everything as one here and this just hurts. He is hurting as much as I am at the moment.”