By Noel Dundon
A relic of the true Cross of Christ has been stolen from Holycross Abbey, Co Tipperary after two masked raiders used an angle grinder to cut through a steel casing on Tuesday afternoon. An accomplice accompanied the raiders and waited outside in a getaway jeep.
The relic, which is located in the heart of the picturesque Abbey, has been part of the community since 1200 and has been the object of devotion for thousands down through the centuries. However, it’s theft has now left locals with a sense of deep loss and Parish Priest, Fr Tom Breen has appealed for it’s return and the return of a second artefact which was also stolen.
“The disappearance of the relic has left me absolutely baffled. This has been part of the tradition of Holycross Abbey since 1200 having been presented to the then Abbot by Donal Mor O’Briain. Ever since, it has been an object of devotion but it has no commercial value whatsoever. I am appealing to whoever took the relic that they might return it by leaving it safely in a Church somewhere and it could be passed back to us,” Fr Tom said.
A red or wine Volkswagen Toureg jeep with a partial registration number 06 OY or 06 LK was seen acting suspiciously in the area in the mid afternoon and was later found burned out in Moycarkey, a few miles from the Abbey. Gardai investigating the theft are also looking into a connection between this incident and the disappearance of a set of keys from the Abbey last week. Every lock in the ancient Abbey which is a well known spot for celebrity weddings, had to be changed in the last few days and Gardai believe the two incidents are connected.
The jeep left the scene in the direction of Yellow Lough and was discovered a short time later two to three miles from the scene at the Yellow Lough, Thurles, where it had been set alight. A dark coloured saloon car was seen in the vicinity of where the VW Touareg jeep was burnt out, travelling at high speed. It is unconfirmed if this vehicle was connected with the theft.
Gardai would like anybody with any information, particularly anyone who may have noticed a VW Touareg (06 OY or 06 LK) in the last number of weeks, to contact them. They would also like to speak to anyone who saw a dark coloured saloon car in the area of Yellow Lough or Holycross. Gardai are appealing for witnesses to contact them at Thurles Garda Station on 0504 25100.
The two items stolen are described as follows –
(1) A Holy Cross, approximately 12” in height, hanging from a chain and contained two crosses and two dark stones. It was made from silver and is estimated to date from the 14th Century.
(2) A Holy Cross, approximately 12” in height and standing on its own base approximately ¾” in diameter. The cross contained a centrepiece that could hold the Host. This cross was made from gold and bronze.
Holycross Abbey has had many celebrity weddings down through the years including Cranberries lead singer Dolores O’Riordan who turned heads when she arrived in the local village.