A priest is appealing to mindless vandals, who are continuously breaking a valuable window at a city centre church, to consider the impact of their actions. There has been 20 separate incidents recorded at the Augustinian Church over the past 18 months.
The window in question is fronting on to Middle Street and is stained glass, which is the centrepiece of the interior of the church. The window is protected by strengthened plain glass and it is this glass which has sustained the damage, with the cost of repair already running into thousands of euro. However, the major fear is that the inside layer of stained glass will be damaged eventually - meaning the long-term impact and cost implications would be even more disastrous.
The stunning stained glass window, which was installed in the 1960s, is made up of hundreds of separate pieces of the valuable glass. If this was to be broken, it has been estimated that it could cost between €100,000 and €150,000 to repair.
The ongoing incidents have been reported to the gardai, but it is difficult to locate the perpetrator of this crime as this particular part of the church exterior is dimly lit and there are no CCTV cameras in this area. The church maintenance committee is currently considering its options to best police this area, but there are obviously financial restrictions and cameras are expensive.
Augustinian priest Fr John Hughes is extremely disapointed that the church is being targeted in this manner. “At a time when Galway is attempting to become the 2020 European Capital of Culture, it is hard to believe that such a beautiful piece of artwork could be the targeted in this manner. It is delinquency of the highest order. I am very saddened that this type of behaviour is going on - and repeatedly.”
The window was first repaired back in December 2013 at a cost of about €1,600. It was fixed again seven months ago and workmen were on-site again yesterday (Wednesday ) to repair the latest set of large holes, breaks, and cracks. It is estimated this work will cost in the region of €3,000 due to the extent of the damage as the attacks have increased in the past six months. The window is located at such a level off the ground, repairs require the hire of a cherrypicker.
Indeed the height of the window has led Fr Hughes to believe the damage is being caused by some sort of propelling device. “The window is too high up for somebody to just be throwing stones, it would seem something like a pellet gun is being used. A propellant would be needed to cause the damage as the type of glass on the window is very strong and the new glass being installed this week is even stronger.”
Fr Hughes is clearly very distressed about the continuing actions of the vandals and his major fear is that an accurate shot will damage the interior stained glass window. He is appealing to passersby to be vigilant if they see anybody acting suspiciously around Middle Street in the future. The priest is also pleading with the culprits to cease causing what is completely needless damage. “The Augustinian Church is part of the heritage of Galway and is treasured by many, indeed we have visitors coming to view our beautiful window every day. What motive could a person have to do this? We have no idea what could be behind such vandalism. Even if whoever is doing this is not a believer in God, and the church - like any public place - it deserves respect.”