AN Irish gang, who gardai believe to be members of the Travelling community and which has been linked to the international trade of rhino horns for the Chinese market, is suspected of the theft of the preserved heart of St Laurence O’Toole.
The 890-year-old relic was stolen last month from Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral by two men, who prised open the cage that had protected the relic and had been in place since the Middle Ages.
Gardai investigating possible links between the reliquary thefts in Ireland are understood to have established a connection with a gang suspected of involvement in the highly lucrative theft of rhinoceros horn, which is sold in powdered form as a traditional medicine in China.
As a result of the rhinoceros horn thefts, museums and other institutions around the world have been replacing their exhibits with fake fibreglass replicas, two of which apparently fooled thieves.
There are now growing concerns about the vast amount of religious relics on public display throughout Ireland in the light of the theft of St Laurence O’Toole’s heart in Dublin. St Laurence O’Toole was born in Castledermot, Co Kildare in 1128. He was the patron saint of Dublin.