Catholic Communications Office media briefing note on Saint Mel’s Cathedral restoration

01 Oct 2012

Catholic Communications Office media briefing note on Saint Mel’s Cathedral restoration

•    Comment from Bishop Colm O’Reilly on today’s event: “When Saint Mel’s Cathedral experienced a catastrophic fire on the night of Christmas Eve/Christmas morning 2009, I immediately made a public commitment that our beloved Cathedral would be restored.  Much time has been invested since then in order to ensure that our planning and preparation process befits this enormous structural project. Thanks to all the work which has taken place on the planning phase of the restoration, the rebuilding phase has now begun, thank God. I thank everyone for their patience and understanding since the terrible fire, and, at this time, I seek your continued prayers and support as we undertake the rebuilding works to restore Saint Mel’s Cathedral for the benefit of the faithful, and for our country.”

•    Since the fire a huge effort has been ongoing behind the scenes by Saint Mel’s Cathedral Project Committee, Diocesan Art & Architecture Committee and the Design Team to ensure the Cathedral is restored as a place of beauty, welcome and prayer. After all of the planning and design, it is particularly pleasing to have arrived at the stage of having contractors on site so that we will now begin to see the great effort of the past few years bearing fruit.

•    Training and employment

–    Saint Mel’s Cathedral Project Committee has arranged for two training programmes to be run in conjunction with the restoration project. These schemes will consist of a Traditional Skills Upskilling and a Pre Apprentice programme. The schemes will be managed by Camlin Community Training Ltd.   The Traditional Skills Upskilling course will have up to 60 participants who are qualified within their trade.  One of the modules for the course will be upskilling qualified plasterers in the use of lime mortar.  The other five modules of the course may include ecclesiastical decoration, specialist cleaning, stone fixing, brass and metalwork.  The Pre-Apprentice fulltime course will have up to 20 trainees. Modules will include: conservation of masonry, consolidation of masonry structures, masonry repairs, surface finishing to masonry walling, introduction to traditional roofing, slating and leadwork.  The course award is by the Scottish Qualification Authority.  Both courses will include soft skills training and the award of Safe pass and Manual Handling Certificates.

–    Over 100 construction jobs will be created directly and in sub contract jobs over a 14 month period
–    The appointed contractors GEMPURCELL Ltd have undertaken to ensure that at least 20% of their labour force is recruited in Co. Longford for the duration of the contract.
–    Practically all labour used to date has been from the Longford County and surrounding area.  Since work commenced work there has been approximately ten local contractors used, which would equate to approximately 15 to 20 operatives. This is on-going and will continue over the course of the project.
–    The main stone contractor is Cregg Stone, based in Ballinasloe.  The company will also be employing local labour where possible.
–    Plasterer George O'Malley has given a commitment to employ where possible local labour for elements of the lime plastering contract. He has also been in contact with local groups in relation to apprentices that will be up skilled in the trade of lime plastering.
–    Where possible local suppliers are being used for materials.
–    A working canteen has been set up on the cathedral grounds and a few of the local restaurants have shown an interest in operating this for the duration of the works, which too will give new employment.
–    The CCTV camera monitoring company are also Longford based.

•    Other strands for the restoration project

–    A planning application has recently been made to Longford Town Council in relation to the interior of the building.
–    The contract for the Grand Organ has been awarded.
–    Procurement of artwork liturgical furnishings continues.
–    A planning application will be made to the local authority in relation to the exterior of the property in the future.

For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444