Two Irish priests allegedly embezzled more than $8 million from their church and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on real estate, travel, rare coins and girlfriends, in Florida.

The retired priests were accused of skimming cash from collection plates and bequests to the St Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church in Delray Beach, Florida, over a period of years.

They are also believed to have channeled the money into secret 'slush funds' they used to pay personal bills, Delray Beach police said.

Monsignor John Skehan, originally from Co Kilkenny, was arrested on a charge of grand theft over $100,000 and was being held in the Palm Beach County jail.

A warrant was issued for the arrest of Reverend Francis Guinan, originally from Co Offaly, on the same charge.

He was on a cruise in Australia but had contacted the police, the Palm Beach Post reported.