A video showing the destroyed cathedral can be seen here. The Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, Dr Colm O'Reilly, has said he will restore St Mel's Cathedral in Longford , though it will cost over €2 million. Bishop O'Reilly said he celebrated midnight mass to a packed Cathedral. He said that it was an extraordinary contrast the next morning. Construction on St Mel's started in 1840 and it opened in September, 1856.
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Though details of any fundraising efforts have yet to emerge, the Diocese can be contacted as follows:-
Phone: +353 (0)43-3346432
Fax: +353 (0)43-3346833
Email: ardaghdi at iol.ie
The cathedral is cruciform consisting of a nave, two transcripts, two aisles and a spacious sanctuary. The nave contains 24 large columns local limestone and windows by the noted Harry Clarke. The original high altar was of French marble. The erection of this building cost £60,000 which was a vast sum to collect during a time of evictions, persecutions and famine.
The completion of St. Mel's was deferred for ten years due to the effects of the famine. The roof and tower were completed under Dr. Kilduff who succeeded Dr. O'Higgins in 1853. Bishop Kilduff blessed the Cathedral on 24th September, 1856.
The words of Desmond, Cardinal Connell, who was Archbishop of Dublin at the time, during an interview with The Sunday Business Post, published on 4th March, 2001, come to mind. "Asked whether he had any plans to build a cathedral in Dublin. (At present, the Anglican Church of Ireland has two cathedrals in the capital – Christ Church, the diocesan cathedral, and St Patrick's, the national cathedral. The Catholic Church has only a `pro-cathedral') reresponded: ‘None whatsoever. If I had the wealth of Croesus itself, I would not build a cathedral because liturgy and architecture at the moment are in such confusion that anything that would be built at this stage would be rejected in a very short time.’"
The restoration of St. Mel's is greatly to be hoped for, both a physical and a moral restoration, an Irish Church rising from the ashes.