Parishioners rally round after church vandalised

 Fr Damian Ryan looks on as locals help to clean up the damage to Our Lady of Lourdes Church.  Picture: Press 22

A close-knit Limerick community is fearful of further acts of vandalism after their local church was destroyed with paint and a derelict house was set on fire.

Trouble flared in Ballinacurra Weston at 2am yesterday after two wandering horses were impounded by the authorities.

It’s understood rocks were also thrown at Limerick City Fire and Rescue crews who were called to the fire at the derelict house.

Vandals threw up to six large cans of different coloured paint at the main door of Our Lady of Lourdes Church and the large statue outside.

Local parish priest, Fr Damian Ryan held back tears as he described arriving at his church which he said is targeted by vandalism up to four times a year.

Just three weeks ago, windows were also smashed at the church.

“I felt like crying when I saw it first. I couldn’t believe it because we had just finished doing up this end of the church.

“It was just terrible,” said Fr Ryan.

The area, which was once the stronghold of the McCarthy Dundon criminal gang, has also been an area earmarked for regeneration.

Our Lady of Lourdes church was built in 1960.

A large black wooden structure, the church is a place of huge pride for a community that has suffered enormous loss over the years as a result of gangland violence.

“It [the church] looked horrible, just horrible and was plainly visible from the road. It was dreadful.

“The colours were screaming out.

“Then from about 12.30 onwards, there was a constant stream of people from the community, working cleaning and painting,” said Fr Ryan.

“To the people who did this I would say, ‘you have achieved nothing. Look at the goodness of the community and join the goodness’.”

At one stage, more than 50 volunteers, including many young children, had gathered to help out with the clean-up operation.

Tommy Roche, Crecora Avenue, Ballinacurra Weston, who painted the church just a few weeks ago, said: “Would you like this to happen to your house? This is God’s house.”

Some of those gathered at the church feared further overnight attacks on their church.

“This won’t be the end of it. They said they would be back,” said one local man.

Some locals planned to stay overnight to keep an vigil at the church.

Gardaí have also increased their presence in the area.

Local public representatives visited the scene yesterday and it’s understood the Mayor of Limerick Cllr Michael Sheahan also met with community leaders in the area.


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