By Declan Tierney
A rural County Galway community is left distraught following the theft of items from more than a dozen graves in the local cemetery.
And the fact that six ceramic angels were stolen from the grave of a baby in Lackagh Cemetery has made it all the more distressing for locals.
Gardai are investigating the thefts from the graveyard and are seeking the public’s help in trying to trace who was responsible.
The incident occurred on Thursday night or the early Friday morning when thieves entered Lackagh Cemetery and made off with statues and crosses that had been placed on graves by grieving relatives.
One local funeral director said that the amount of trauma and distress that this caused to families in the area was very evident as people gathered to inspect their own graves.
Frank Kearney told The Connacht Tribune that he was speaking to a woman who visited a grave of a loved one on Friday morning and discovered that one of the statues was missing.
“We then discovered that more graves had been interfered with and as local people became concerned it emerged that items had been stolen from around 12 graves which horrified the community.
“Most of the statues that were stolen were free standing ones but there were also a number of statues and crosses ripped from headstones which infuriated the owners of the graves”, he explained.
While no structural damage was done to any of the graves, the fact that people entered the cemetery and stole items was a source of major annoyance and anguish for a lot of families.
Mr. Kearney said that one grave owner, who had a large ceramic angel stolen from it, told him that it would have taken at least two people to carry it away.
Gardai have appealed to anyone who may have noticed a van or truck in the vicinity of Lackagh Cemetery on Thursday night or early Friday morning to contact them.
“I don’t think that I have ever seen so many people in such a distressed state when the arrived at the graveyard on Friday and Saturday when word spread that this sickening act had taken place”, Mr. Kearney added.
Local TD Noel Grealish condemned those responsible for the robbery and described it as “the lowest type of crime I have ever witnessed”.
“It has caused huge distress and upset to the families who’s loved ones graves were robbed and desecrated and I am calling on members of the public who may have information about this attack to contact the Gardai as soon as possible”, Deputy Grealish said.
Gardai believe that those who stole the graveside statues could offer them for sale.