Friends of St Mel's Cathedral - Christmas Day 2009

Letter on St Mel's Cathedral from Bishop Colm
to the priests and people of Ardagh and Clonmacnois


We are all devastated in Longford by the fire which gutted our beloved St. Mel’s Cathedral on Christmas Day 2009. Thankfully no one was injured. However, the sheer devastation to the interior of the building means that it is a time of immense bereavement and loss for the people of our town and diocese. The Church is made of living stones and it is the hope and commitment of the faithful from near and wide that has allowed us to re-gather ourselves and set about restoring the Cathedral, whilst all the time continuing to carry out all the activities that normally occur in the parish. We warmly welcome the support received from people of other denominations and faiths and those who recognise the cultural and historical importance of this iconic building that has been the symbol of Longford town for generations.

Many people wish to help at this time and we are immensely grateful for the moral and financial support that has been expressed over these days. We wish also to acknowledge the trojan efforts of the emergency services in fighting to save St. Mel’s Cathedral and securing it in the days since: the County Longford Fire Service, An Garda Síochána, local ESB crews and the local authorities. We are deeply grateful to the sisters at the Convent and St. Joseph’s and our liturgical suppliers for immediately coming to our assistance on Christmas Day to allow Masses to go ahead – it was a great source of hope to come together as a community of believers with Bishop Colm to give thanks to God for all our blessings and to put our trust in Him and the intercession of St. Mel that will see us restore the Cathedral with the same spirit that allowed earlier generations build it in even more difficult times.

Various parish committees have already come together to assist in the task of restoring the Cathedral and putting in place measures to accommodate parish worship and activities over the next few years. We are currently located in the Temperance Hall for all our regular Masses at the normal times. It is hoped to relocate parish worship to the diocesan and school facilities at St. Mel’s College in a few weeks time. A word of thanks to the staff of the Temperance Hall and to the Principal, caretaker and teachers at St. Mel’s College for their help at this time. Please keep the people of our parish and diocese in your thoughts and prayers.