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Paintings stolen from Galway church

By Ann Marie Foley - 26 June, 2013

Six paintings of the stations of the cross by renowned artist Evie Hone have been stolen from a church in Co Galway. The works are part of the 14 stations of the cross at the Church of St Peter and Paul at Kiltullagh, near Athenry. Parish Priest Fr Martin McNamara noticed the paintings were missing […]

Six paintings of the stations of the cross by renowned artist Evie Hone have been stolen from a church in Co Galway. The works are part of the 14 stations of the cross at the Church of St Peter and Paul at Kiltullagh, near Athenry. Parish Priest Fr Martin McNamara noticed the paintings were missing when he went to lock up the church which is left open during the day for people to pay a visit.

Speaking to Mirriam O Callaghan on RTE radio he expressed his shock and sorrow. “I was hardly able to say Mass I was so shocked,” he said. “I appeal to anyone who has information to come forward.”

Mirriam O Callaghan tried to reassure Fr McNamara and later expressed her concern about how devastated he was.

Fr McNamara explained how people visit from all over the world to see the paintings, and that they have hung on the walls of the church since 1946 and were never touched.

“We are so upset about the whole thing,” he said. “The church seems so cold, so empty without the stations of the cross. I would appeal that whoever has taken them would realize that they are special to us, and while the set of Stations is priceless on their own they may not be worth that much.” 

The oil paintings are around three feet by four feet in size and mounted in wooden frames. The 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, 11th and 12th stations have been taken. Fr Mcnamara has removed the remaining stations of the cross for safekeeping, on the advice of the gardai.

The paintings have been in Kiltullagh Church since 1945 after they were commissioned by a local benefactor.

Artist Evie Hone worked mainly in stained glass, so her paintings are quite rare. Some early sketches for the Stations in Kiltullagh fetched over €40,000 at auction last year.

There have been thefts of many valuable church items in the last few years. Less than a year ago (see Cinews August 7th, 2012). A 228mm cross was taken from St Jude’s Shrine in Calvary, Omeath, Co. Louth. Before that a case containing the preserved heart of St Laurence O’Toole was taken from Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, and True Cross relics from Holycross Abbey were also stolen as was the twelfth century shrine to St Manchan from a church in Boher, Co. Offaly.

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