Parishioners in a County Carlow parish were left deeply upset this week when, following the death of their much-loved parish priest, a callous thief broke into the church on Christmas Day while his remains lay in repose.
The late Fr Edward Flood (pictured), who was parish priest of Rathvilly in Co Carlow, passed away on December 22.
His remains were brought to Saint Patrick's church in Rathvilly from his nephew's home on Christmas Eve for reception and prayers and as is the custom in many churches when the parish priest passes away, they were left in repose until Saint Stephen's Day.
However local Gardaí have confirmed that the church was broken into between 2:00am and 10:00am on Christmas morning in an incident that caused a delay to the Christmas Day services at the church.
Carlow Gardaí have also confirmed that they are examining CCTV footage of the incident as part of their investigations.
According to Gardaí, the assailant gained entry to the church via a toilet window and the Church poor box was taken in the raid.
In a further blow to parishioners the church also suffered burst pipes due to the freezing cold temperatures on Christmas Day.
Despite the difficulties however, the funeral mass and burial of the late Fr Edward Flood went ahead as planned.