A courageous parish priest scared off intruders as they attempted to break into a south Longford church last week
A local parish priest forced intruders at a south Longford church to flee empty handed following a botched break-in attempt last week.
Killashee Parish Priest Fr Patsy McDermott chased a gang of men from St Patrick's Parish Church last Thursday evening as they attempted to burst into its sacristy.
Fr McDermott, who was in the parochial house across the road, saw suspicious activity in the trees along with loud banging which was coming from the church and immediately began to go and investigate.
"It must have been about 8:30pm to 9pm and suddenly I heard noise at the back of the church and movement in the trees," he told the Leader.
After bursting through a rear door, the culprits soon switched their attentions to the sacristy.
However, the arrival of Fr McDermott onto the scene forced the gang to abandon those attempts as they made their getaway on foot.
The Donegal native, who has been resident parish priest in Killashee/Clondra for the past three years, admitted the damage caused by the intruders was likely to run into several hundreds of euro.
"They broke the back door and must have used to a crow bar to get in as it was locked," he said.
"They almost got into the sacristy too and that door was destroyed also.
"I'm just thankful they (burglars) didn't take anything.
"Thank God they didn't touch the tabernacle or the shrine."
The local parish priest said he didn't get a chance to get a look at those responsible, but believes there were at least "two, if not three" raiders involved.
Fr McDermott said it wasn't the first time criminal elements had targeted the church either.
"In terms of oil (theft) that's happened twice," he said, adding that together with replacement doors he was now looking at having to install a CCTV camera between the church and parochial house.
Details of the attempted raid at St Patrick's Church follows hot on the heels of a similar incident at St Anne's Church in Curry over the course of March 14 and 15 last.
In that episode, damage was caused to a stained glass window with damage also being caused to the church's interior.
Both incidents bring to four the number of times churches across the county have been the subject of break-ins or attempted raids over the past 12 months.