I’m sure everyone in Ireland has heard about the robbery in Holycross Abbey Thurles, Co Tipperary this week. I couldn’t believe it when I read the details of the robbery. They broke into the abbey at 5pm on Tuesday evening with a hammer, screw driver and angle grinder.I thought initially they cut one of the crosses from its stand with the angle ginder but from what I have read it appears that they used the angle grinder to cut open the steel door of the display cabinet protecting the cross.
The two crosses were only 30cm in height so very easy to take. I thought the crosses were stolen for the metals scrap value but having looked into the size and the metals of each cross I’m not sure if that’s the case. One of the crosses was solid silver which although valuable as scrap would perhaps be more valuable intact, considering it was a 14th century reliquary. The other cross is bronze and gold, but it sounds like the bulk of the cross was executed in bronze and then it was finished or plated with gold. Either way it doesn’t sound like a huge quantity of gold and not worth the risk . This is only me speculating… I’m not familiar with the mark up or overheads for robbery! It’s an awful loss to the church who had housed the pieces since the 12th century. As a maker I hate to think craftsmanship like this would be destroyed.
So much silver and gold gets scraped these days due to high prices being paid for scrap metal. I completely understand people cashing in their old jewelry for cash but it’s horrible to see pieces like this being scrapped. If you find yourself with some old silver or gold be sure to get it valued first. You’d never know it might be worth more sold intact than for scrap and at least this way the piece survives for someone to admire.
Hopefully there will be a happy ending to this story and the two crosses will be returned to the abbey intact. A similar thing happened in Cork city when the gold horns were removed from the gold leaf Resurrection Angel statue that sits on the roof of St. Finbarres Cathedral. This is a beautiful cathedral which I know well since I attended the art college across the road from it. The story goes that the angel will sound the horns out over the city on judgement day! Anyway these were cut from the angel but following an appeal were returned to the cathedral where they were restored and returned to their rightful place.
Hopefully the crosses will find their way back to Thurles…