The first phase of the project to reconstruct St Mel’s Cathedral in Longford, which was gutted in a fire at the end of 2009, is now at an end, according to the bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, Dr Colm O’Reilly.
The bishop said that the wall of the building is now secured and the planning of the interior is almost complete.
The next part of the project, trial cleaning, tests for geo-thermal heating, steel support to the columns and ground investigation will now get under way, he added.
“Work has been in progress here for eighteen months and now begins a new phase, the difficult task of investigating the condition of its limestone columns and other parts of the cathedral damaged by the fire,” he said.
“There will soon also begin important work on the exterior of the Cathedral, supported by the Heritage Council,” the bishop added.
The most immediate aspect of the work to be attended to is the repair of the lintel over the front door and to the statues on the front facade.
Expressing pleasure at the progress to date, Dr O’Reilly said, “We can look forward to the joy of the day when St Mel’s Cathedral will once again open its doors to the people of Longford and the diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois.”
For the first time since the burnt-out shell was sealed off, the public will be re-admitted to the site for an Open Day in a few weeks time where people will be able to view the damage and the work that has been done.
The plans for the remainder of the reconstruction project will be placed on public view.