Found: the invaluable church records dumped by thieves

THERE has been cause for great celebration in Derrylin as valuable church records stolen by thieves and subsequently discovered dumped in an Offaly bog were returned to Fermanagh.
The decades of irreplaceable records stored in a safe in the Holy Trinity Church of Ireland rectory had been stolen two months ago. 
News that the records had been found around 100 miles away in Offaly first reached parishioners on Christmas morning. 
Rector of the parish, Revd Alastair Donaldson remarked that it was almost like a “mini-Christmas miracle”, adding that he had received the initial message late on Christmas Eve Night. 
“We were sleeping and I didn’t get the message until Christmas morning. The message more or less said that a man had found our records in some bogland on the Offlay Kildare border.” 
It is believed that the records could have been in the bog for up to seven weeks before they were discovered. “This would stack up with when the burglary was and when they were found. It would have been about seven weeks,”  Revd Donaldson said.
He added that most of the records had been preserved fairly well:  “On some of the pages the ink has run, but if they had been down there much longer they would have been in a terrible state. 
“I had a vision in my head that the safe was lying on top of the bog, but apparently it was a long way down to where the safe was. It adds to the miracle that the man who spotted it had an interest in records and knew what to do with them. It could have been spotted by 101 people that wouldn’t have cared. That was quite remarkable,” Revd Donaldson explained. 
Paul Cooke the man who had discovered the records while out walking his dog kept in touch with Revd Donaldson over the festive period. 
On Friday 11 January he made the trip up to Derrylin with his friend to return the records. 
“We spent the day giving a guided tour around the parish here in Kinawley and Holy Trinity,” Revd Donaldson said.
“They’re very happy and pleased that they got to see such a beautiful part of the country that up until a few weeks ago they had never heard tell of. It was brought onto their radar by these records.”

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