'They used a clothes hanger and Blu Tack' - Church break-ins force security review in Kerry

'We're at the stage in Kerry where we have something like 41 priests and 110 churches'
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

14.11 5 Mar 2024

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'They used a clothes hanger an...

'They used a clothes hanger and Blu Tack' - Church break-ins force security review in Kerry

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

14.11 5 Mar 2024

Share this article

All parishes in Kerry are being asked to review their security amid concerns about burglaries in churches.

Churches in Killarney have been targeted in broad daylight over the last number of months.

The churches are still open each morning so people can drop in but a shortage of priests means many are often left empty.


It is understood Gardaí are investigating a number of incidents concerning church burglaries.

Irish Examiner Journalist Anne Lucey told The Pat Kenny Show some of the thieves are quite clever.

"It's been growing over the last 10 to 12 years," she said.

"There have been dramatic break-ins in places like what used to be called The Bishop's Palace in Killarney a few years ago.

"More recently in Killarney town itself, where there's a friary and there's two other churches, all three have been broken into in the last five months - and a fourth church out in Muckross in January.

"In the Killarney churches the thieves were quite clever in that they literally lifted money from the boxes using a wire clothes hanger and Blu Tack, it was quite inventive."

'Back to the round towers'

Ms Lucey said there aren't enough priests to watch the buildings.

"We're at the stage now in Kerry where we have more churches than priests," she said.

"We have something like 41 priests and we have 110 churches.

"There's a consultation underway at the moment on the future of the church in Kerry and also church buildings will be part of it.

"Advice in the last week or so to parishes is that they should review all security and put away all valuables.

"We're almost back to the situation of the round towers if you want to be flippant about it; storing away the chalices before the Vikings attack us".

'Empty during the day'

Ms Lucey said any security at rural churches is usually minimum.

"CCTV is expensive enough and a lot of the rural churches wouldn't have CCTV," she said.

"The are being asked to look at the possibility of lighting and even just being very aware of locking churches.

"Churches would be empty during the day in rural areas but they're still the focus of parishes and even villages and towns."

Ms Lucey said people are being asked what locals want to do with the empty churches.

"What will they do with all the churches where there won't be weekly masses because of the shortage of priests?

"It's actually one of the questions the Bishop of Kerry Ray Browne has asked people to consider," she added.

Ms Lucey said some considerations include using the buildings as community centres or putting lay pastors in place.

Main image: Muckross Church, Killarney. Image: Facebook/Muckross Church 

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