‘I think they left me for dead’

An elderly man was subjected to a terrifying ordeal as masked raiders tied him up and ransacked his Bennettsbridge home in search of cash.

An elderly man was subjected to a terrifying ordeal as masked raiders tied him up and ransacked his Bennettsbridge home in search of cash.

Museum curator Seamus Lawlor (75) was in bed listening to the Johnny Barry show on Friday night when four men entered his room and demanded money. As he rose from his bed, Seamus was tackled by the intruders, who bound his arms and legs and placed a cover over his head.

The men ransacked the house from top to bottom, searching for cash and valuables for over an hour. When Seamus felt sure they had left, he tried to plan his next move.

But on his own in the house, his ordeal was far from over.

His hands and feet still bound by rope, he began to move, inch by inch, along his stomach down the hall from his room. A space not much longer than 20 feet, it took the 75-year-old almost three hours to do so.

“I honestly think they left me for dead,” he recalls.

“I am thanking God for my life.”

It was light outside by the time Seamus had managed to get to the front door, left partially ajar by his fleeing assailants. He managed to get it open, and then crawl outside.

However, it was not until nearly four hours later that he was found by a local man out walking his dog. Lying tied up outside his own front door, Seamus was shaken from his traumatic experience, but not badly injured.

His wrists were swollen from the pressure of the binds, and the man managed to cut the ties with a penknife. He alerted Gardai and an ambulance, both of which arrived within ten minutes.

Seamus runs the well-known Nore View Folk and Heritage Musuem adjacent to his home in Bennettsbridge. While the museum contains a number of antiques and other rare artefacts, the raiders did not go near it.

Instead, they got away with a locked safe. However, there was no money in it – and the ever-defiant Seamus chooses to see the positive side of things.

“I would keep very little money in the house, because of the times we live in,” he said, in the wake of the attack.

“The place was turned upside down though, and it will take weeks to sort out. But thank God I’m alive.”

Seamus is well known locally having played St Patrick in recent Kilkenny St Patrick’s Day parades. His museum is renowned far and wide, even attracting a personal letter of commendation from German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this year.

Gardai in Thomastown say they are following several lines of enquiry on the incident. They are interested in talking to anyone who visited the museum last week, or who might have seen anything unusual or suspicious in the area. Contact 056-7724222 or Garda Confidential on 1800-666111.