Gardaí in Co Offaly have recovered the 12th century shrine of St Manchan that was stolen yesterday.

What gardaí described as an "intelligence-led search" of a remote area near Doon, Co Offaly, led to the recovery of the shrine in the past hour.

It is now at Tullamore Garda station for a forensic examination.

Two men who had been arrested in connection with the theft were released without charge earlier. A file has been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

St Manchan's Shrine, an intricate bronzework, was taken from Boher Church at around lunchtime yesterday.

The Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, Dr Colm O'Reilly, said he was shocked and disgusted by the theft of what he described as "a priceless masterpiece of Irish Christian art".

Dr O'Reilly said there was an elaborate security system, complete with a camera, in place at the church where the shrine was stolen.

The bishop said the shrine is particularly significant for the people of Clonmacnoise, where St Manchan had founded one of the local monasteries.

He said the shrine, which is made of bronze and had been meticulously engraved, is one of the last surviving pieces from this very interesting period in Irish history.