This piece takes a quick look at the planned reconstruction and restoration of an old historic building; St Mel’s Cathedral in Longford, which was destroyed by fire on Christmas Day 2009.
At around five o’clock on Christmas morning 2009, a fire broke out in the rear of St Mel’s Cathedral. Fire services did their best to contain the fire but unfortunately were unable to stop the fire spreading throughout the Longford Cathedral.
An investigation by the police (An Garda Siochana), and Insurance forensic experts, found that the fire had begun in an old chimney flue, and spread to the sacristy of the Longford Cathedral. They found that the fire was an accident and could not have been foreseen.
The blaze caused serious destruction to the interior of the church. The seats and organ were destroyed and the roof collapsed. There was severe fire damage to the walls, plaster, columns and marble work of the Longford Cathedral. The museum also fell victim to the blaze, with the loss of many valuable items, such as historic vestments, photographs and an exquisite collection of Penal crosses.
However not all was lost – 200 items from the museum were saved and are being restored at the National Museum.
In February 2011, Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise Dr Colm O’Reilly, announced the development team for the restoration and reconstruction of St Mel’s Cathedral. Architects for the project are Dr Richard Hurley of Richard Hurley and Associates Architects and architect Colm Redmond, from Fitzgerald, Kavanagh and Partners.
The project is being managed by IPM (Interactive Project Managers), Bishop O’Reilly and Seamus Butler (Chairperson of the St. Mel’s Cathedral Project Committee).
Work commenced in late 2012 on the reconstruction of St. Mel’s Cathedral. Bishop O’Reilly hopes the Cathedral conservation work will be completed in time for Christmas mass in 2014. In the initial stages, much of the conservation work will take place underground in the grotto area of the church, so the public will have to wait until more visible aspects of the project are being worked on (roof reconstruction etc.) before they’ll see any real changes.
It is estimated that the project will cost €30 million, and it has been described as being “the largest conservation project of it’s kind in Western Europe”
Source: The Longford Leader, The Irish Catholic
On a project this size many works will have to be completed, amongst which include wall and floor sterilisation, sub floor sterilisation and sterilisation of exposed walls.