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Longford Cathedral on fire

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  • JupiterKid wrote: »
    It looks like the damage of even the stone work and shell of St. Mel's Cathedral was so severe from the fire, that not even this aspect of the building will be able to be saved and the structure may have to be demolished and completely rebuilt as damage would be beyond restoration.

    In light of this possibility, should some type of iconic modern structure be put in its place or should the original cathedral be rebuilt in the original style?

    It's a terrible loss of the precious artefacts contained within the cathedral and the adjacent museum.:(

    What is your source? Or are you assuming from the picture posted on the earlier page? Although the damage to the columns looks severe in the photos it may not be typical of the rest of the support structure. That said I would expect that the altar end eould have to be completely rebuilt rather than restored. But I would expect that the fire wouldn't have been as intense in the congregation area as there was less material to burn as well as the efforts of the fire service focussing their efforts on saving this part.




  • The congregation area as it has been called would've had a lot of varnished wooden pews which would have been highly flammable and given the height of the flames as seen in some of the pictures then it is a reasonable assumption that they would've been ablaze too.
    At this stage, its hard to know how the pillars and support structures will cope when exposed to the extreme elements so we could not possibly say how much of it will be saved.




  • "So be it"!!!!!! My god but your a cold one and with people of your mind set these are far from sins of the past. They will continue. Happy days ?
    Genuine question:
    Are you a parent?


    What are you on???????
    I will give u the benefit of the doubt as you don't obviously understand my posting, nor must u have read previous threads...so please, cool your heels....
    I say 'happy days' in the context - i am happy the cathedral will be built as personally it means a lot to me. Its not something i would expect of anyone else, that is my personal view.
    Like i have already said, as have countless others here- this thread is about the burning of the cathedral - i'm sure there are many other threads on boards devoted to child abuse and if i wanted to contribute to the subject of child abuse, than other to those thread i would go - maybe u could consider that aswell?
    Following on from this..I did not attack you in the manner you have done to me - again, i have to repeat myself it seems as you either failed to understand my posts (which is ok) or you havent read my recent posts - where i did voice my opinion on child abuse...maybe you should look back for your own information?
    finally, i stand over what i have said - the burning of a building doesnt repair the sins of the past..(again, the hint here is in the word 'sins', this should indicate maybe my feelings on child abuse???). If you feel that the burning of the cathedral was justified in the light of the abuse scandals, thats your perrogative (not mine) - but, if you feel this strongly then, maybe it should be done in the broader sense - why stop at burning the cathedral??? what about the other religeous sectors, the schools, the swimming pools/clubs, boxing clubs, nursing homes, orphanages, homes etc..the list is prob endless.
    I believe the law should be followed and those responsible be punished and corrective action taken - again thats my personal opinion.

    My apologies yet again to other posters here, my intent was not to go off topic nor repeat myself, again, but in this instance, in my own defence, i had no choice.




  • just drove past the cathedral on my way home, its sad to see all the doors and windows boarded up. i know it had to be done for security, safety and other reasons but boarding up what was once a welcoming building leaves me feeling sad. i just hope this weather doesnt delay the forensics or destroy vital evidence.:( i have heard another rumour about possible arson without naming names it was to do with another court issue and doesnt relate to child abuse.?????as i say a rumour.




  • The congregation area as it has been called would've had a lot of varnished wooden pews which would have been highly flammable and given the height of the flames as seen in some of the pictures then it is a reasonable assumption that they would've been ablaze too.
    At this stage, its hard to know how the pillars and support structures will cope when exposed to the extreme elements so we could not possibly say how much of it will be saved.

    Presumably one of the first stages in preserving the cathedral will be to construct some sort of temporary external cover to the roof - i.e. using an external system of scaffolding or other similar method. Depending on the structural soundness of the external walls, some of these may also require temporary bracing.

    All of the windows openings will also most likely have to be braced and from looking at the picture on the other page, I would say some sort of bracing system may also have to be put in place to ensure the stability of the internal rows of columns. I would say that these along with loose debris up high (i.e. bits of the roof/floors) are probably the main areas of concern at the moment.

    The structural stability of the bell tower may also be an issue - if it is, this could further delay things as a steel bracing framework may have to be constructed in order to support it for the time being.

    With regards to the restoration of the cathedral, there is no reason what so ever why it cannot and will not be restored to its former glory if a well experienced team of designers, conservationists and contractors...etc are appointed.

    Building techniques have really advanced since the cathedrals original construction. The only thing that may hinder a full restoration is whether or not there are good records (photographic or otherwise) of the interior and its windows, stonework, mosaics....etc, with the right amount of money, patience and time, it should look better than even once finished :D


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  • zamur wrote: »
    The only thing that may hinder a full restoration is whether or not there are good records (photographic or otherwise) of the interior and its windows, stonework, mosaics....etc, with the right amount of money, patience and time, it should look better than even once finished :D

    there are many photographs on the interent, peoples wedding albums and videos would be helpfull and considering the cathedral seats and ceiling and paint work was restored not the long ago i am sure they must have details of this type of work on record somewhere. i hope that when they start to restore st mels to its former glory that they dont modernize too much, the beauty of st mels was its magnificent art work and decor.18671_259483995790_749775790_4931933_2495237_n.jpg




  • Some random facts about St Mel's Cathedral:

    * Mel Gibson was named after it (his mother was from Colmcille in County Longford).

    * In addition to the local congregation it attracted over 100,000 visitors each year, making it the most visited free tourist attraction outside of Dublin. That figure also exceeds the number of people who visit the Chester Beatty library annually.

    * James Joyce's parents were married there. It was also where General Sean McEoin's wedding took place, which was attended by Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith.




  • did anyone hear the bishop on shannonside friday???? he was talking as if the pillars are damaged beyond repair and listening to him it sounded like there werent going to be restored??:eek::eek: i personnally think that the pillars are an important part of the cathedral and would like to keep them




  • Some random facts about St Mel's Cathedral:

    * Mel Gibson was named after it (his mother was from Colmcille in County Longford).


    and you'll never guess what his second name is....!!!




  • did anyone hear the bishop on shannonside friday???? he was talking as if the pillars are damaged beyond repair and listening to him it sounded like there werent going to be restored??:eek::eek: i personnally think that the pillars are an important part of the cathedral and would like to keep them


    they are pretty important, but it wouldn't be too bad if they had to remove them. i'm sure if the outside walls were saved, that a whole new roof could be constructed without the pillars, which did block a fair whack of the view for those of us who tried to hide down the back. imagine the great big expanse there would be.
    and before people go on about a roof not being supported right, firstly, i'm only dreaming, secondly, building practices have changed a little since the famine times.
    i think what they should do is call in the guys who built the olympic stadium in athens a few years ago. they spent years tooling about and everyone was worried that it wouldn't be finished on time. somehow, while still looking for a light for the cigarette and scratching their arse, they got the glass roof on in time for the trial run of the stadium. give them a deadline and they'll get it done!!


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  • they are pretty important, but it wouldn't be too bad if they had to remove them. i'm sure if the outside walls were saved, that a whole new roof could be constructed without the pillars,
    thats what the bishop said basically now that the roof is gone that the pillars arent as important, still i think that they should be kept if at all possible, they add to the whole cathedral, and i know from speakin with my dad who is in his 60's and his brother also in his 60's that he wouldnt be happy about it either. they bought grew up around st mels and have extremely fond memories of it.:(
    this is just my opinion and yes they would give you loads of room and not block any view but if you were down the back slipping in late to mass what will you hide behind???:D to me the restoration should be to return st mels to its former glory prehaps a little modernised but not too much.




  • The same Mel Gibson who wrote, directed, produced and funded 'The Passion of the Christ' and who is said to have anti-Semitic views!


    Hear, hear! It's not like Mel Gibson is short of a bob or two - let him offer to fund the rebuilding of the cathedral.




  • What an awful incident. Horrific!!!!


    [IMG]file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/oem/My%20Documents/My%20Pictures/22260_224230109729_609399729_2970654_1695037_n.jpg[/IMG]



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  • The same Mel Gibson who wrote, directed, produced and funded 'The Passion of the Christ' and who is said to have anti-Semitic views!

    here we go , the sniping bull****e starts again





  • In relation to where the photo came from, it looks like a poor quality mobile phone picture. It could have been taken by anyone who had access to the scene, a fire man, guard even a priest and circulated via text message. I don't think it was necessarily photographed by Mickey.

    Regarding the photo it is 100% genuine. I didn't take the picture. Most all phones take pictures now. The clue is in the above qouted post but i don't want to say exact source incase there is any trouble over it..




  • Micky 32 wrote: »
    Regarding the photo it is 100% genuine. I didn't take the picture. Most all phones take pictures now. The clue is in the above qouted post but i don't want to say exact source incase there is any trouble over it..
    could you get any more?




  • sonoftony wrote: »
    could you get any more?

    There seems to be another image of the damage on archiseek's page - scroll down a bit on this link.

    http://www.archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=4691&page=248




  • inside




  • Some of those columns don't look too healthy! They heat must have been extremely intense - probably due to all of the dry timber which has resulted in the thermal destruction of the columns - had they been of another material (other than the thermal limestone susceptible) the damage may have been minimal!

    It will be interesting to see what the plan is from here on in - looks like those columns will have to be braced or demolished to enable the forensic examinations to take place.




  • some more


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  • i am shocked at how bad the inside is.:eek: i didnt realise so much damage had been caused, i see in some of the pics posted that some of the statues seem to be ok, i can see now why the bishop was talking as if the pillars would be removed, but still i think they should be rebuilt




  • Not my photos...

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  • So very sad.

    My wife's parents were over this christmas and we actually went to the midnight mass the night before. Got up the next day to go in for the christmas day mass and didn't know what was happening when main street was blocked off. Couldn't believe it when we found out what happened.

    I have heard that they are planning on using one of the empty warehouses in Longford (take your pick says you!) to host mass for the time being as the temperance hall won't hold the numbers required.

    On another note regarding the structure of the building, I noticed that there is a sizable crack on the front above one of the main doors, was that a settlement crack or caused by the fire? If the latter it does bear the question of whether the structure is any way sound at all for bearing a load and if it would have to be pulled down altogether




  • thats been there a good few years




  • http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2010/0104/1224261595150.html

    Article in the Irish Times today by Peter Geoghegan
    ‘THE ONLY thing the town has had to be proud of is gone”. This terse comment, left on the internet forum Boards.ie, said it all: for the people of Longford, St Mel’s cathedral is not just a place of worship, it is an iconic landmark, a repository of history, and a symbol of the self-less devotion of an impoverished nation.
    Nevertheless, the fire that tore through St Mel’s on Christmas morning has eviscerated one of Ireland’s best known cathedrals and cast a shadow across the midlands market town in whose life it has been central for over 150 years.


    Like many in Longford, I was awoken on that morning not by the sound of excited children opening presents or family members enjoying Christmas breakfast but by the anxious voice of a neighbour. The call came just after 8am, by then St Mel’s had already been on fire for around three hours. Half asleep, I stood at the back window of my mother’s kitchen staring in horror as – less than a mile away – bright orange flames danced across the cruciform cathedral’s outstretched arms and thick black smoke bellowed into the sky. A few hours later, the building was still smouldering – the walls had survived the conflagration but almost everything inside was destroyed.
    Christmas Masses did take place in Longford, although in a nearby community centre, not the town’s magnificent neo-classical cathedral. Given that fire services were tackling the blaze throughout the morning, it was remarkable that the traditional ceremonies were held at all, but that they were speaks volumes for the indefatigable spirit that has characterised St Mel’s from its earliest days.


    St Mel’s cathedral was the brainchild of Bishop William O’Higgins, a native of Drumlish, in north Longford, and a fervent supporter of Daniel O’Connell and the Emancipation movement. Even after 1829, Catholics in the midlands continued to face persecution, strengthening O’Higgins’s resolve that the diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise needed its own purpose-built cathedral.


    Educated in Paris, O’Higgins found inspiration for his new cathedral in the City of Lights’ famous Madeleine cathedral, as well as the Pantheon and the Basilica of St John Lateran. On May 19th, 1840, more than 40,000 parishioners as well as clergy from a far afield as Australia and the United States were present as the foundation stone, which was taken from the ruined 8th-century cathedral of St Mel in Ardagh, Co Longford, was laid.


    It is impossible to overestimate the psychological import of St Mel’s cathedral for the people of Longford and surrounding counties, particularly in its early years. Longford in the middle of the 19th century was a poor market town, the majority of whose inhabitants lived in mud huts and thatched houses, but from the midst of this squalor the cathedral’s massive Doric pilasters began to rise. The local economy also benefited: most of the limestone used in the construction came from west Longford and Knockcroghery in Co Roscommon.


    Since opening in 1856 – building work was suspended during the famine – St Mel’s has housed practically every item of historical interest or significance in county Longford. As well as the 10th-century crozier of St Mel and various reliquaries, the Holy Family Altar, which had been rescued from a Roman church that was sacked during the Garibaldi campaign, was lost in the fire.


    I left Longford many years ago – had the tragic fire not happened during the holidays I probably would not have been around to witness it – but, like so many others, St Mel’s was a vital presence in my life. It was first and foremost a religious place – I made my communion and confirmation there, and celebrated countless births, marriages and deaths within its now fire ravaged walls – but my strongest memories of it are cultural: almost every trip home incorporated a pit-stop to admire the finest works of art in Longford, the remarkable Harry Clarke windows that adorned the cathedral.


    The stained glass, like so much else in St Mel’s, is irreplaceable, and the estimate of €2 million worth of damage quoted in the media has caused dismay on the streets of Longford. As one St Stephen’s Day reveller put it to me, “It will cost that much just to get the cathedral to the point where you can spend money repairing it.” The real cost of repairing St Mel’s is likely to run into eight figures, but in Longford town I found a genuine determination to see the cathedral rebuilt. History is on its side: in 1838 Bishop O’Higgins travelled to all 41 parishes of the diocese, raising £2,000 from ordinary people for the new cathedral.


    O’Higgins’s contemporaries have many difficult questions to answer but, for many in Longford and across the Midlands, restoring St Mel’s is about much more than religion.




  • news update from longford parish website...

    The life of the parish continues as far as is possible under the circumstances. All Masses continue at their normal times at the nearby Temperance Hall and at the other parish churches. In a few weeks all Masses from the Cathedral will re-locate to facilities at St. Mel’s College. Weekday Masses will take place in the College Chapel and weekend Masses will occur in the school gym. This re-location involves a lot of preparation and planning. On Tuesday 29 December members of the Pastoral Council, Parish Finance Committee and the Temperance Hall Committee came together at St. Mel’s College to prepare for this move which will see us based there for a number of years. We are liasing with the school, health and safety, and local authorities to facilitate a smooth transition. The generosity and dedication of all involved is extremely heartening and much work is ongoing to make our new place of worship an inviting home for our liturgies and sacraments. The Friends of St. Mel’s Cathedral restoration fund is now up and running to facilitate the many people who have contacted us wanting to contribute to the work of reinstating the original splendour of St. Mel’s Cathedral.
    At St. Mel’s Cathedral there is ongoing collaboration between the parish, diocese, the Gardaí, insurance company, loss adjusters, structural engineers, conservationists and other professionals to ensure that the building is made safe, forensically examined and as much heritage conserved as possible. This week has seen the arrival of Hegarty Demolition Ltd. who despite the name are here solely to secure the site and make the building safe for inspection. They are carrying out their work under the direction of the Gardaí and structural engineers. The next phase will see the forensic examination of the Cathedral to try and decipher where and how the fire began. After that is work is complete, the next task will be to recover those items which have survived the fire.




  • Decipher? ...what an odd word to use.

    The college gym is most definitely adequete for the crowds. I can't help but think that it's going to involve quite a bit of logistics during school term, placing down the mats to protect the floor, bringing in and out the seating and other furniture for a mass etc etc.




  • Decipher? ...what an odd word to use.

    The college gym is most definitely adequete for the crowds. I can't help but think that it's going to involve quite a bit of logistics during school term, placing down the mats to protect the floor, bringing in and out the seating and other furniture for a mass etc etc.

    Whats so odd about the use of the word decifer?

    I'd imagine that once the furniture is moved in that'll be it, it won't be removed until the Cathedral is restored.




  • Economic wrote: »
    Whats so odd about the use of the word decifer?

    I'd imagine that once the furniture is moved in that'll be it, it won't be removed until the Cathedral is restored.


    From what I've heard, the furniture will be removed during the week so that the students can continue to use it for PE classes and other indoor sporting activities. Not a difficult task if collapsable/stakable chairs, etc. are used.

    (And "decipher' is a word associated with making sense of jumbled-up words or a secret code ;))


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  • Economic wrote: »
    Whats so odd about the use of the word decifer?

    I'd imagine that once the furniture is moved in that'll be it, it won't be removed until the Cathedral is restored.

    Well it doesn't seem like the most apt word to use when you're talking about discovering or investigating the cause of a fire.

    Decipher
    # To decode or decrypt a code or cipher to plain text.
    # To read text that is almost illegible or obscure.

    or
    1. to determine the meaning of (something obscure or illegible)
    2. (Electronics & Computer Science / Communications & Information) to convert from code into plain text; decode


    Back on topic, if all the furniture was to be moved into the college gym and not moved out again then what will the 600+ students do for P.E. class or for the Junior/Leaving Cert? I'm pretty sure there's nowhere else in the college they could hold these things...


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