Shock and sadness as community discover 'devastating attack' on Galway church

The contents of a church in Galway have been almost completely destroyed by vandals, writes Denise O'Donoghue.

The Holy Trinity near Clifden is part of the Omey group of Church of Ireland churches and had been out of use for the last four weeks. The damage was discovered yesterday.

It is believed the brass altar cross, which was removed from its mount, was used to cause much of the damage.

"A parishioner went to open the church door ... only to find that door hanging off its hinges. Worse was to be discovered inside," said Dean of Tuam Alistair Grimason.

"What greeted the eye was a scene of complete devastation. The startlingly white pews had been upended, some of them rendered to near matchwood.

"The family bible which had reposed on the lectern for decades had been torn asunder and thrown through the east window, smashing the ancient delicate glass, to lie discarded, carelessly, on top of the green sod of the graveyard.

"The pulpit had been chopped into two pieces. The altar rails had been torn bodily from the chancel walls and used to smash the west window.

"The brass altar cross was ripped from its mount and clearly used to inflict heartbreaking damage on the church interior.

"The old organ which had led the praise of Almighty God now lay in pieces on the floor. The newer organ had been destroyed utterly."

Members of the church community have vowed to restore the church to its previous condition.

"Even at this early stage, generous offers of assistance are springing up from the local community and beyond."

The Bishop of Tuam, The Right Reverend Patrick Rooke, said he was "horrified and saddened" by the news of the vandalism.

"I am horrified and saddened by the wanton destruction carried out by vandals in Errislannon Church, outside Clifden," he said.

"I cannot see what possible gain might be achieved by those responsible. Errislannon Church is maintained and used by a very small church-going community in the summer months only and for them, this is a most devastating attack on a sacred place.

"I have no doubt, however, that they will galvanise the necessary support to ensure that the major repairs are carried out and worship will resume again next summer as usual."

A Garda technical team is investigating the incident.

By Denise O’Donoghue

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