St Mel’s Cathedral opens its doors

A unique opportunity to get a close-up view of the damage caused to St Mel’s Cathedral following the devastating Christmas Day fire in 2009 will present itself on Sunday, September 18 next when the building will be opened to the public for the first time.

A unique opportunity to get a close-up view of the damage caused to St Mel’s Cathedral following the devastating Christmas Day fire in 2009 will present itself on Sunday, September 18 next when the building will be opened to the public for the first time.

Speaking to the Leader, Fr Tom Healy said that an open day had been organised and members of the public would be invited into St Mel’s Cathedral to see for themselves the impact that the fire had on its once beautiful and ornate interior.

“It is an opportunity for people to visit the building firstly,” explained Fr Healy, adding that they would subsequently be in a position to evaluate the extent of the damage done. “It is also the beginning of the restoration project, so people will be required to wear hard hats.”

With nearly two years gone by since the cathedral was gutted by fire on that fateful morning and the impact still etched on the hearts and minds of Longfordians across the world, Fr Healy expects that that while the open day will be very well attended - it may become “emotional” for some. “I have no doubt that it will be an emotional day for some people,” he said. “The cathedral was gutted inside, so seeing it as it is now, will be very difficult.”

On a positive note, the plans for the restoration project will be on view on the day at the assembly hall in nearby St Mel’s College and those arriving at the cathedral are invited to drop over and see for themselves what the restoration will involve.

“This will show everyone what the future plans for the cathedral are and they will be invited to put forward suggestions and ideas,” Fr Healy said.

“I think there will be a tremendous reaction to the open day. The restoration is going to be complex, there is no doubt about that but there are restoration trails taking place now and that is a very positive step in the right direction.”

The open day takes place from 10:30am to 3pm and everyone is invited to come along.