Rebuilding work at St Mel’s Cathedral in Longford is continuing at a steady rate, with more than half of the columns and pilasters already rebuilt or replaced, according to Fr Tom Healy.
Speaking to the Leader recently, Fr Healy expressed his satisfaction with the work to date. “We have made significant progress,” he said. “The building is really coming together now.”
At the moment, work is concentrating on the plastering of the high level decorative cornices and on the installation of a new concrete floor, and the project will soon reach an even more momentous stage.
In the coming months, construction work will commence on a new roof for the cathedral, to replace the original one which collapsed when the building was gutted by fire on Christmas Day, 2009.
“It will be a huge task,” said Fr Healy. “There is a large amount of Blue Bangor slate which has to be fitted, and the job will take a couple of months to complete.”
Speaking about the various planning applications required, Fr Healy told the Leader that phase one of the project is now approaching completion.
“The application for phase two of the rebuilding work is now with An Bord Planeala,” he explained, “and the application for stage three is currently being prepared.
“This will deal with the exterior of the cathedral, and will include fencing, car parking and landscaping.”
Another aspect of the restoration project that is now underway is the procurement of artwork and sculptures.
“We are looking for a new altar and tabernacle,” Fr Healy revealed. “We are also looking for Stations of the Cross for the walls, new stained glass windows, and a new water font, amongst other things.
“We will be working closely with a range of artists, craftsmen and sculptors on this.”