AN HISTORICAL BELL has been taken from a Co Kerry arts centre based in an old church.
There has been no sign of the bronze bell since it was taken from the Ivy Leaf Theatre in Castleisland. The bell was taken on either Wednesday night or Thursday morning of last week.
Jerome Stack, who runs the centre, told TheJournal.ie that it is one of 16 remaining bells which were cast by the Rudhall family in Gloucestershire, England.
One of the other bells is in St Anne’s church in Shandon, Cork.
Stack said the bell was on a shelf in an alcove 12 – 14 feet high off the ground. “It was on display – it was feature of the centre,” he said. “When we took over the centre in 1982 it was up in the high gable. But we thought it might not be that stable and we took it down.”
A local man out walking his dog on Thursday morning alerted Stack to the fact the doors of the centre were open. ”I knew they shouldn’t be open,” said Stack, who went to investigate and discovered the bell was gone.
There was no damage done to the door when the thieves entered the premises on Church Lane. Stack said he was very surprised to see that the bell had been taken from such a height, and that it would have taken a number of people to carry it.
The case is being investigated by gardaí, and all of the scrapyards in the locality have been contacted to keep an eye out for the bell, which was made in around 1776 and weighs around 300lbs.
The building is a former Protestant church which was turned into an arts centre in 1982. Castleisland is a very small community, said Stack, with around 1500 people living in the town.