Thursday, December 27, 2012

St Mel’s on target for Christmas 2014

An aerial view of St Mel'’s Cathedral in Longford after the fire at Christmas 2009. Photo: Gavin DuignaThe Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois has said he is looking forward to saying Mass in St Mel’s Cathedral in Longford on Christmas Eve 2014, as the huge restoration of the fire-ravaged building continues on target.

St Mel’s Cathedral is undergoing a €30million facelift to its interior in what is believed to be one of the largest conservation projects of its kind in Western Europe.

Bishop Colm O’Reilly said that St Mel’s Cathedral project committee is aspiring to have the restoration finished in time for Christmas 2014, and that it would be an “emotional draw” for the people of the parish who saw the 150-year old building gutted by fire at Christmas three years ago.


“It makes me think of a quote about Pope John Paul II’s visit to Clonmacnois, that the lovely thing about the old ruins of Clonmacnois was that what we had begun to see as graveyard of all our hopes had become the hope of all our graveyards. If the cathedral is restored back to what it looked like, it would turn the graveyard of our hopes in 2009 to a sign of hope for the future,” he said.


This Christmas Bishop O’Reilly will once again celebrate Mass in St Mel’s Cathedral Centre which is converted from a gym hall in St Mel’s College to a functioning liturgical space every weekend by a team of parish volunteers.

“The temporary accommodation is quite good and very professionally done,” Bishop O’Reilly said, “but it would just be great to be back in the cathedral again.” 

St Mel’s Cathedral was damaged by a fire that began in a chimney flue, leading from a boiler, in the early hours of Christmas Day in 2009. 

The fire destroyed the roof and interior, including some priceless artwork and items of historical significance.