Smashed windows and security at church may cost up to €50,000

Garda investigating breaking of 104 panes at St Catherine’s Church in Tullamore

Rev Isaac Delamere of Saint Catherine’s Church:  “really appreciative” of support from the wider community. Photograph: Ger Rogers Photography

Rev Isaac Delamere of Saint Catherine’s Church: “really appreciative” of support from the wider community. Photograph: Ger Rogers Photography

 

Parishioners of a Co Offaly church expect that up to €50,000 may have to be spent to improve security and replace more than 100 windows smashed in what its rector described as an act of vandalism.

Gardaí are investigating the breaking of 104 windows at St Catherine’s Church of Ireland in Tullamore, which is believed to have happened between Monday and Wednesday morning.

Rector Isaac Delamere said he was shocked by the incident.

“It would have taken a good bit of time. There’s 104 panes of glass broken and there are slivers of glass scattered throughout the church. . . it is sad to see,” he said, adding that he believed the damage was an act of mindless vandalism rather than a targeted or sectarian attack.

Rev Delamere said he was thankful that the church’s stained glass windows, which are protected by wire mesh grills, were not damaged.

“We are a small community so we don’t really have the financial resources now to meet the cost of meshing all of the windows and installing security cameras,” he added. “That’s not ideal for churches that we surround ourselves with wire and with cameras but it is probably a reflection of the times we live in.”

Direction of society

Alan Wallace, a parishioner, said the church had been there for 203 years without such an incident happening.

Broken glass on pews in Saint Catherine’s Church, Tullamore, Co Offaly. Photograph: Ger Rogers Photography
Broken glass on pews in Saint Catherine’s Church, Tullamore, Co Offaly. Photograph: Ger Rogers Photography

“What does that say about society and where society is going?” he asked.

Mr Wallace said he knew Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan well but felt much safer decades ago when Oliver Flanagan, his father, was minister for defence. He said that back then he “slept easier in my bed than I am sleeping at the moment and that is mirrored across the country, but most people are afraid to talk about it”.

“I suppose parents not teaching children discipline, not to damage things, to respect older people. The old values seem to be forgotten a lot,” he said.

Rev Delamere said he was “really appreciative” of the support the parish had received from the wider community after the incident.

“We don’t want to throw further stones or criticism or negative judgment because that doesn’t achieve anything. It only isolates and marginalises people further.”