A CONSAW was used by vandals to cut the cross at the top of the country's highest mountain.
The landmark cross at the top of Carrauntohill, the highest of the Macgillycuddy Reeks in Co Kerry, was cut from its base over the weekend.
The discovery was made by two climbers on Saturday morning. Piaras Kelly of Kerry Climbing reached the summit about an hour later.
Mr Kelly, who has a background in construction, says the cross definitely was cut but he suspects a consaw was used rather than the heavier angle grinder that would have required a number of people to carry it up the mountain and a battery to operate.
"The consaw only weighs about 10kg and could easily be carried up the mountain in a rucksack," he said.
"Also, if it was an angle grinder that would have needed a battery whereas a consaw runs on petrol and that could have been more easily carried up the mountain," he added.
The steel cross was found lying just feet away from its base, where it had fallen on the ground after being cut.
The matter was reported to the gardai on Saturday.
Locals in Beaufort, Co Kerry, who maintain the cross, have vowed that it will be replaced.
It was in this village 38 years ago that 100 parishioners carried the five-foot steel cross, as well as the building materials, welders and other equipment needed to erect its base, the 1,039 metres to the summit.
Investigations into the vandalism are continuing.