Raiders may have been trying to steal takings from athletics meeting


RAIDERS who stole £40 from a Co Tipperary bachelor yesterday may have been searching for the takings from a weekend athletics meeting, according to Garda sources.

Mr Eamonn Barry (60) a retired farmer who lives alone in Grallagh, Horse and Jockey outside Thurles, normally collects takings at the gate during crosscountry events. But he did not collect the money at Sunday's Munster juvenile cross country championships in Horse and Jockey.

The two masked raiders, who wore gloves, broke into Mr Barry's isolated farmhouse at around 2 a.m. yesterday. Mr Barry, who had just gone to bed, heard a noise downstairs. When he went to investigate he was confronted in the porch by the two men, who had forced their way through the door. They had also broken a kitchen window.

They ordered him to his bedroom upstairs and forced him to lie on the floor. They asked him for money and searched the house before making off with £40 in Mr Barry's wallet.

"One of them bad a metal bar and he threatened him and put a blanket over his head but they weren't extra violent and they didn't stay very long," said Mr Barry's brother, Scan, who lives in neighbouring Curraheen.

"They accepted that he didn't have money in the house. They did a small bit of searching but not much." Mr Barry went to a neighbour's house and they contacted the Garda.

Mr Sean Barry said his brother never takes money home from athletics meetings. "He's an old man living on his own but he's not a man of great means. If you went up to see the house you could see that it's not a" prosperous man lives in it," he said. He said his brother, who suffers from mild epileptic fits, was a "little bit shaken" by the robbery.

Thurles gardai said the raiders may have escaped in a car parked in a cul de sac nearby. Mr Barry's house, on a 40 acre farm, is about one mile from the main Dublin Cork road. Both raiders are believed to have been in their early twenties.

Father Richard Ryan, parish priest of Moycarkey, said there were quite a few elderly people living alone in the area but such incidents did not make the rest of his parishioners fearful. "There are people being robbed right over the countryside nowadays," he said. "All the parishes have been hit and people living alone in older houses are being targeted by thieves."

There are about 73 community alert groups in Tipperary. Mr Jim Quigley, the president of Muintir na Tire, said he "deplored" yesterday's raid on Mr Barry's home.

At a meeting attended by community groups in Thurles over a week ago, Supt William Harris said it was "harvest time" for criminals and a time when most old citizens were at risk.