Longford cathedral to be restored


The €30 million refurbishment of St Mel’s Cathedral in Longford is expected to create up to 150 jobs and should be completed in time for Christmas Eve mass in 2014.

The Cathedral was gutted by a fire which broke out on Christmas Eve in 2009. The fire destroyed the roof, much of the interior and burned into Christmas day.

Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, Colm O’Reilly, today signed contracts for the project with Longford based GEM Construction and Galway based Purcell Construction, who together will restore the Cathedral.

“After all of the planning and design, it is particularly pleasing to have arrived at the stage of having contractors on site so that we will now begin to see the great effort of the past few years bearing fruit,” he said.

“I thank everyone for their patience and understanding since the terrible fire, and, at this time, I seek your continued prayers and support as we undertake the rebuilding works to restore Saint Mel’s Cathedral.”

Mayor of Longford town, Cllr Peggy Nolan (FG), said the fire had taken “the heart out of our community and as far as I am concerned it is still missing”. She said the development was “very positive” news.

A planning application has been lodged for the second phase of the project. It will involve the internal layout of the Cathedral.

If approved, the plan will see the altar brought forward, the organ relocated, the baptismal font brought in line with the alter and the tabernacle located behind the alter.

Saint Mel’s Cathedral Project Committee has organised an upskilling programme for up to 60 qualified tradesmen and a pre-apprenticeship course for a possible further 20 candidates.

Specialist skills like lime mortar plastering, ecclesiastical decoration, specialist cleaning, stone fixing, brass and metal work will all be required in the project.