By Kieran O’Mahony
DIVERS are to be deployed at the lake in Gougane Barra in the hope of finding the ‘altar stone’, which has been removed from the site of the old church on the island of St Finbarr.
It was only in recent weeks that locals noticed that the distinctive stone with crosses on it, was missing. They are hoping that those who are responsible for removing the stone will return it.
‘It was only when my mother, Breda Lucey, went to do the round of prayers there that she noticed at the tenth round that the altar stone was missing. We suspect it would have taken a few people to carry it as it’s a big flag stone and is pretty unusual,’ said Finbarr Lucey.
‘We don’t know if it’s a case of vandalism, or if it has been stolen, as it’s a very important religious artefact. We are getting a diver to come to search the lake just in case it was dumped in there. People are upset that such a important stone could be stolen and when people come to pray this stone will be missing.’
Local parish priest, Fr Martin O’Driscoll said he was shocked and dismayed and has asked anyone with information on its whereabouts to contact Macroom gardai.
‘This was an important religious artefact which formed part of the round of prayers and devotion to St Finbarr for hundreds of years,’ he said.
The round of prayers usually take place on June 23rd and St Finbarr’s Day on September 25th with many coming throughout the year to pray for someone’s that ill. Bishop Buckley, as a native son of the parish of Uibh Laoire and a successor of St Finbarr, also expressed his concern.