Damage to “priceless” tomb, graffiti, and church windows shot at with an air rifle among vandalism incidents at national monuments over past year

More than sixty cases of damage to national monuments were reported over the past year with grave slabs broken, medieval churches graffitied, and an air rifle believed to have been shot through the windows of another historic site.

The Office of Public Works said wilful vandalism to sites was an ongoing problem with five separate cases at a single castle complex over the past twelve months.

They said fencing at Carlow Castle had been damaged on four separate occasions, while in another incident the lock and latch of a gate to its tower was broken off.

A megalithic cemetery at Carrowkeel in Sligo was defaced with chalk graffiti while somebody inscribed their initials on a lintel stone at the site.

Graffiti was sprayed on to the wall of both the historic Roscommon Abbey and St Mary’s Church in New Ross, Co Wexford.

At St Mary’s Church in Gowran, Co Kilkenny, a large chunk of stone was broken off the top of the Kealty Tomb, according to records released by the OPW, one of two such incidents there during the summer.

In Roscommon Castle, padlocks were cut off the gate and a stone removed from an opening with repairs later having to take place.

“Digging on site” was reported at Killarney High Cross in the summer of 2021 while masonry and structure damage was reported on a “very regular basis” at Raheen-a-Cluig on Bray Head in Co Wicklow.

Locks to two of the country’s most ancient sites at Loughcrew, Co Westmeath and Dowth, Co Meath were cut off with a “power grinder”.