Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, Dr Colm O’Reilly this week spoke about the restoration of St Mel’s Cathedral in Longford town and the possibility of Holy Mass being celebrated there in December 2014.
Speaking from his home in Longford town, last Wednesday, Bishop Colm provided more insight into the e30m funding allocation for the cathedral’s restoration and highlighted the onus of responsibility that is now on the Church to carry out the restoration works, because of State laws on listed or protected buildings.
Dr O’Reilly is also quietly confident that Holy Mass will be celebrated in the newly restored St Mel’s Cathedral on Christmas Eve, 2014.
Construction firms – Gem Construction, Longford and Galway based Purcell Construction – are on target with the restoration project, and a course that will provide local people with conservation skills necessary to work on the cathedral’s restoration, will also be run in Longford in the coming weeks.
“We are holding that date, but I wouldn’t like to be asked to swear on the bible that we will get there for Christmas Eve 2014, but we will certainly keep trying,” smiled Dr O’Reilly. “I am very impressed by the manner in which the work is being attacked at the moment. I was in the Cathedral two evenings ago and the activity there is extraordinary, I have to say; you would think that the people down there were working to save their own lives. I am very impressed by the quality of the performance..”
In recent weeks, negative comments circulated on social media websites about the high cost of the restoration project.
“There are great benefits to the community with regard to this restoration project,” Bishop Colm “I think that there is an area where there is misunderstanding and I would like to clarify this; We were obliged by the law of the land to restore the cathedral in Longford.... If we did not restore it, there would be penalties, including a term in jail if the matter was pushed to the limit. So, we were never free to spend the money provided for the restoration on anything else – it had to be spent on the cathedral. I believe that the vast majority of people here in Longford would want the cathedral restored and I am looking forward to the completion of the works.”
Dr O’Reilly has been Bishop of the Diocese for 29 years and will celebrate his 30th year in the role in April, 2013.