Plans to restore St Mel’s Cathedral to its former glory moved a step closer this week as project leaders opted for a locally based firm to undertake a series of restorative works at the historic building.
Parishioners learned of the news in a weekly newsletter distributed to worshippers at the weekend following what committee insiders have since described as a “comprehensive” and “intensive” tendering process.
Athlone Road based firm Gem Construction Ltd, in association with Galway building contractors, Purcell Construction Ltd, will carry out both internal and external works over the coming weeks.
As the work, which involves the replacement of limestone columns and pilasters, reconstruction of outside stonework and the restoration of internal plaster, is not subject to planning approval project committee bosses were able to issue a letter of intent in recent days.
It also means on site works could commence by the end of the month following the decision by company chiefs to set up special project vehicle-’Gem Purcell Ltd’ to carry out the project.
Vincent Fay, joint managing director of Gem Construction Ltd expressed his delight at the announcement.
“We are delighted obviously especially as the tendering process involved around 13 other contractors which were short-listed down to six,” he said.
Involved previously in the restoration of Dublin Castle and the Department of An Taoiseach, Gem have also set their sights on delivering local jobs by working closely with the Camlin Community Training Centre.
Kevin Fay, Construction Director for the project said: “We are looking forward to working with the Design Team to deliver a project that protects the heritage of St. Mel’s Cathedral and will meet the liturgical requirements of future generations.”
The decision to appoint a locally based firm was also welcomed by St Mel’s Project Committee chairman, Seamus Butler.
He did however stress the move was not motivated by any concealed predilection to favour Longford construction and joinery specialists over competing rivals from outside the region.
“We (project committee) are delighted that a letter of intent has been issued to a local company, but it wasn’t by design or choice. There were six final tenders from national and local businesses and after an intensive evaluation process the preferred tender was chosen,” he said.
The Longford Chamber of Commerce President also said it was his hope An Bord Pleanála officials would look favourably on an appeal lodged in April against the granting of permission for works relating to the new roof and sub-floor.
Work on the project is expected to commence from August 28, lasting a total of 14 months.