A memorial plaque which was laid at the graveside of a soldier at a recent ceremony in Derrybeg has been stolen by thieves.
As the sun pounded down over the sea at Machaire Gathlán cemetery the family of former Sergeant Major Tom McHugh stood in silence as a commemorative ceremony was carried out in his honour. Former comrades of his had travelled from Galway to Gaoth Dobhair with the plaque that would mark the grave of their former colleague and friend who died in 1966.
The heavy ornate plaque was carried by two men and laid fittingly to mark the grave as people began to enter the stoney gates of the cemetery for graveyard Sunday on July 20th last. Relations had travelled from Scotland to be present at the ceremony.
However, the family were shocked to find a number of days later that the plaque had disappeared without a trace.
Tom McHugh’s great-niece, Sandra Callaghan said: “My heart sank when I went to look for it. It’s very sad, very disappointing. Nobody has ever heard about this kind of thing happening in graveyards in the area before. Normally when you leave something there, no matter what it is, it remains where you left it,” she said.
Gardaí and the Parish Priest Father Pádraig Ó’Baoghaill have been made aware of the issue. In both Brinaleck and Derrybeg Chapel, a photocopy of the stolen plaque has been put up so that everyone can see it and identity the plaque should they see it.
Tom McHugh was a former Sergeant Major who was a native of Brinaleck in Cnoc Fola and stationed in Galway. Those who were related to him travelled from Scotland and from other areas in Ireland to be present for the ceremony. Everyone who was involved with the ceremony are anxious that the plaque, which was especially made, should be retrieved.
“If someone were to leave it where it could be found by someone then we could place it back to where it rightfully belongs. It is a lovely plaque,”she said.