Longford students express their support for Saint Mel’s Cathedral

02 Oct 2012

Longford students express their support for the restoration project for Saint Mel’s Cathedral

Today in Saint Mel’s College, Longford, Bishop Colm O’Reilly, Bishop of Ardagh & Clonmacnois, hosted a media briefing to mark the contract signing for the restoration project of Saint Mel’s Cathedral.  The interior of Saint Mel’s was destroyed by fire early on Christmas Day 2009.  The only statues inside the Cathedral which survived the fire are of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Saint Mel, the patron saint of the diocese; and, of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.

CCO Media Briefing Note on St Mel’s Cathedral

Video: St Mel’s Cathedral: Hope From the Ashes

During today’s media event the following sample of correspondence and poems, written by students from both Saint Joseph’s and Melview national schools in the aftermath of the 2009 fire, were read out by students of Saint Joseph’s.  Sixth class teacher Ms Marie Dolan accompanied her six students from Saint Joseph’s today.

Please see student texts below:

  • Eva Belova of Saint Joseph’s National School read a poem St Mel’s written by Aidan McGee from Melview National School
  • Clodagh Kiely of Saint Joseph’s National School read a poem The Cathedral written by Ben Ryan when he was in fifth class in Melview National School
  • Gabriele Flynn of Saint Joseph’s National School read an extract from a letter written by Alexandra Korba from Saint Joseph’s National School
  • Elizabeth Oluyemi of Saint Joseph’s National School read an extract from a letter written by Shauna McNally of Saint Joseph’s National School
  • Wiktoria Rozel of Saint Joseph’s National School read an extract from a letter written by Patrycja Chodyna from Saint Joseph’s National School
  • Emma Simoes of Saint Joseph’s National School read a poem Saint Mel’s Stained Glass Windows which was written by Mary Sloane of fifth class Melview National School

The Cathedral

Ashes and ashes,

People say “oh what a shame oh

what about that christening in May”

Although it is gone the walls stand


Intense work they will start,

a once great building torn apart,

But the tower stands and the pillars


People will stand and watch the work

the carpenters the builders and many alike,

We are unable to know how much damage is done,

That great Cathedral that was open to


By Ben Ryan, Fifth Class, Melview, NS

An extract from a letter to Bishop Colm from Alexandra Korba, Saint Joseph’s N.S.,Longford

Dear Bishop Colm,

I really enjoyed looking at the crib at Christmas time and lighting candles when the Mass was over. I remember my sister getting her baptism in the cathedral. Unfortunately I didn’t make my  baptism or communion there because I was in Poland. I’m really sad because I really wanted to make my confirmation in the cathedral but now it is impossible.

On the other hand I’m happy that the walls, the crypt and some other things like the stained glass Harry Clarke windows, statues and the Pieta have been saved. It’s sad for all of us but it must be terrible for you, when you have served in this church for many years. I wish that we could go again and sing as a choir at the communions.

Well, I hope that we will all get money and be able to rebuild the cathedral, to make it even more beautiful than it was before. If people who lived in the famine times built this church without a lot of money we can do it too!

I will give you all my help and support to rebuild it.

Yours sincerely,

Alexandra Korba.

An extract from a letter to Bishop Colm from Shauna McNally, Saint Joseph’s N.S. Longford.

Dear Bishop Colm,

I was devastated when I heard that the cathedral was destroyed because I was so looking forward to making my Confirmation in that beautiful building.

I have been baptised and I made my Communion in St. Mel’s and it was lovely. My sister was going to get married sometime this year in St. Mel’s. My new baby nephew was also going to be christened. Unfortunately that can’t happen now.

Thank God the cathedral wasn’t set on fire on purpose, and that no-one was hurt.

I will give every support to the restoration.

Yours sincerely,

Shauna McNally 

An extract from a letter to Bishop Colm from Patrycja Chodyna, Saint Joseph’s N.S.,Longford.

Dear Bishop Colm,

On Christmas morning I went to the cathedral with my Granny. When we arrived at the cathedral I saw that the cathedral was burning. Now when I’m walking to school and when I see the church all my memories come back.

I remember when I went to the cathedral for the first time. I was really shocked because I had never seen such a beautiful building.

My favourite memory of going to the cathedral was when I went with my class for a tour. It was amazing!

I was very, very sad when I read in the newspapers that all of the special things that were in the museum in the cathedral were gone.

I hope that the cathedral will be restored and I hope that it will be very beautiful and that nothing will ever happen to it again.

Yours sincerely,

Patrycja Chodyna.

Saint Mel’s stained glass windows

A stained glass window

Fell to the floor

It’s beauty was shattered,

It breathed no more.

Coloured fragments

Of one brilliant design

Scattered and broken,

Shattered by time.

They lay there helpless,

Scarred and alone

The sharing has ended,

It broke with stone.

How can its beauty be Forgotten

The light and wonder

It cast and caught

Only God will ever know.

By Mary Sloane.


For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678.  Photographs of today’s media event, including pictures of the interior of the Cathedral, are available from Brenda Drumm on 00353 (0) 87 310 4444