Six decorative windows, all over a century old, were damaged at St Mary’s Church of Ireland in Killarney, Co Kerry, at the weekend.
Gardaí now believe the damage, the most severe of which seems to have targeted the baby Jesus in a large nativity window, was done under cover of darkness, possibly in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Experts are being called in to assess the damage and advise on repair. However, the bill will be about “tens of thousands of euro” the rector said.
The decorative stained and painted glass windows, including biblical scenes as well as pre-Raphaelite reproductions, all over 100 years old, are regarded as fine examples of the art of decorative glass in the Victorian and Edwardian era and are a major tourist attraction.
The damage which has left a gaping hole in the nativity scene in the sanctuary was uncovered shortly before the 11am service on Sunday.
Church of Ireland Rector in Killarney, Reverend Simon Lumby came upon the damage as he prepared for the Sunday service at St Mary’s.
He walked on shattered glass and there was a huge gaping hole high in the sanctuary.
The congregation was distressed, and it was a tragedy to the memory of the people to whom the windows were dedicated, and to the tourists who are regularly given guided tours of the windows, said Rev Lumby.
The hole in the sanctuary was particularly upsetting and it was now being boarded up.
Somebody had used severe force and used a large, heavy object to break the high window of the nativity scene, he said.
“The congregation are very distressed. I would not like to speculate on the minds of the people who did this,” Rev Lumby said.
Gardaí in Killarney are investigating and have appealed for anyone with information to contact them.
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