Pillar tops stolen from Clonleigh church

Gardai are continuing investigations into the theft at the weekend of two pillar tops, dating back over two centuries, from church grounds in Lifford.

Gardai are continuing investigations into the theft at the weekend of two pillar tops, dating back over two centuries, from church grounds in Lifford.

The granite crowns had initially been removed from the gate posts at St. Lugadius parish church in Clonleigh on Friday evening. They were still lying beside the entrance at 7 o’clock on Saturday evening but were reported missing three hours later.

“To think that they have been there for 200 years and not been touched and now they are simply gone is just so annoying,” the Rev. Dean John Hay, Dean of Raphoe, which covers the parish of Clonleigh, reacted yesterday.

“Why would people stoop so low as to do something like this? I know we are living in tough times but I would ask myself if these people are not desperate but just bad,” he said.

Rev. Hay said he feared the pillar tops had been stolen to order.

A local parishioner received a call late on Friday night and was informed that the two pillar tops had been removed from their respective positions.

The granite crowns lay beside the gate posts all day on Saturday and were still there at 7 o’clock in the evening. But a further check three hours later revealed their disappearance.

Describing the theft as “awful”, Rev. Hay said: “I never thought somebody would have stolen these pillar tops.

“I’m really annoyed and so are my parishioners.”

The sandstone pillar tops had initially been removed on Friday but the culprits had been disturbed and the tops had been lying on the ground adjacent to the entrance.

Gardai had been alerted and had visited the scene on Saturday. Dean Hay said he also had seen the two pillar tops lying beside the gateway.

Garda personnel again went to the scene later in the day.

Dean Hay was unable to verify how old the gate posts were but indicated: “The new graveyard in Lifford is 150 years old and this one is older. So you could be talking about 200 years or more.”

Gardai have appealed for information.