Reward offered for info on stolen church paintings

Galway gardai, along with the help of Crimestoppers, have renewed their appeal for information regarding the whereabouts of valuable paintings which were stolen from a church in Athenry last month.

The six paintings which depict the scenes from the third, fourth, fifth, 10th, 11th, and 12th Stations of the Cross had been stolen from St Peter and Paul’s Church in Killtullagh on June 22, 2013.

It is understood that a substantial reward could be offered in return for information that leads to the recovery of the paintings which are specially commissioned art by painter and glass artist Evie Hone and have hung in St Peter and Paul’s Church since 1946. It is believed the paintings could be worth up to €150,000 or up to €6,000 individually.

The theft is believed to have occurred between 10am and 9.15pm on June 22 and the keys to the back door of the church had been stolen one week prior to the incident.

Speaking this week, detective inspector Michael Coppinger said: "These paintings are of considerable material value, but they are invaluable to the church and to the parishioners. I am appealing to anyone who can help with this investigation to call Crimestoppers or their local Garda station today. Perhaps you saw something suspicious on or around June 22 or perhaps you know who is responsible for this crime. I urge you to come forward now.”

According to reports gardai are particularly interested in tracing the whereabouts of a couple, believed to be in their 30s and non-Irish nationals, who were seen in the vicinity of the church on the day of the incident. A small silver car was also sighted at approximately 3.30pm directly across from the church. The driver is believed to have been a heavy set man while the woman was wearing a long flowing dress. Gardai say they wish to speak with the couple in order to perhaps eliminate them from their enquiries.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers on 1800 25 00 25, the Garda confidential telephone line on 1800 666 111 or any Garda station

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