“YOU COULDN’T PRINT that” – the words of Father Arthur O’Neill when asked what went through his mind when he found a gun pointed to his head.
The priest told TheJournal.ie that he was awoken at around 5am on Sunday morning when the alarm went off in his home at St Brigid’s Parish in Cabinteely, Dublin.
He told the alarm company that called that he was fine “thinking the alarm was a mistake”. However he then turned over to find “what looked like a machine gun pointed to my head”.
O’Neill said he wasn’t sure if the gun was real but that he was worried when it was pointed to his head.
“Two men had broken in hoping to find money but I told them they had no chance and that they were barking up the wrong tree,” he said.
He also said he was surprised they didn’t hit him “just out of frustration”, especially when one of the men was saying to the other “put one in his legs”.
I was stubborn and they were stubborn. They soon realised they were getting nothing.
He said the whole break-in lasted about 15 to 20 minutes and that he “wasn’t very priest-like” with his language during the incident.
The priest may have been scared but he was brave enough to follow them out to the door and shout after them asking for his phone to be returned.
I told them to leave it somewhere because all my contacts were in it and people had my number to call me in emergencies.
The pair might not have been the most Christian of people but they did manage to leave his phone under a tile in his front garden, where it was protected from the rain. “I knew they were going to leave the phone…there’s good in everyone” he added.
O’Neill joked that he got rid of them by “boring” them, launching into a sermon that I had prepared for later that day”.
When asked what did they get? “Not a whistle”.
The priest said he has been well looked after by his community in Cabinteely and had “plenty of invites for dinner”.
And when asked if he forgave the men, O’Neil laughed and said that they were “two stupid men” but that he would identify them if they were arrested. He said “these people always pick on the most vulnerable”.
He did add that when at mass this morning the Our Father took on a different meaning for him – especially the words “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”.
- First published 2.30pm