Church repairs 'could cost millions'


THE AFTERMATH of a fire in a historical Dublin church earlier this week was “like a scene from the Blitz”, its parish priest said yesterday.

Fr Niall Coghlan, who yesterday viewed the extent of the destruction caused to St Catherine of Alexandria Church, on Meath Street in the Liberties, said it could remain closed for up to a year and the costs of restoration could run into millions of euro.

The mid-19th century church was damaged by a fire that broke out in the crib on Monday evening. It is a busy church, open – until Monday’s event – from 7.30am until 5pm seven days a week. One person, who was uninjured, was in the church at the time of the incident.

Fr Coghlan, describing the scene in the church yesterday, said the large stained-glass window over the high altar was “very badly damaged”.

“And the organ at the other end of the church was incinerated. All the damage is high up, around roof level,” he added.

“The fireball went up from the crib and affected the roof and ceiling.

“It’s strange, the seats are all in perfect condition. The floor is in perfect condition. The high altar is in perfect condition.”

The large stained-glass window had been “quite beautiful”.

“We had the loss assessors in this morning. It looks like we will be closed for many months, maybe a year. I’d say the cost will be into the millions.”

The church has been closed to the public. “We have been advised it is, for now, a dangerous building,” added Fr Coghlan.

He had, however, been “uplifted” by the support from across the Dublin Catholic community. The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, had visited on Tuesday, as had Msgr Dermot Clarke of Aughrim Street parish and Rev Craig Cooney of St Catherine’s Church on nearby Thomas Street.

“These are such wonderful symbols of the support that is out there. We are very lucky too that Fr Tony Egan around the corner in St John’s Lane has accommodated us fully and we will have Masses and readings there.”