A travel blog of Ireland, Europe, and New Zealand

St Mel’s Cathedral

Well, we have a Mel in our family. Is she a saint? Ummm, can I get back to you?

St Mel’s cathedral in Longford was accidentally destroyed by fire on Christmas Day 2009. It was opened recently after a €30 million refit so when one of Pip’s colleagues offered to show us around, we hopped on the train for a day out. Many thanks to Kathy, Owen and James for their hospitality.

St Mel’s is the seat of the Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois and was built in the mid-1800s in a fairly plain but still majestic neo-classical style.

Longford01 Longford02On entering, near an intricate floor mosaic, one of the first things to be seen is a display board showing the extent of the fire damage. It must have been heart-breaking for the parishioners.

Longford03 Longford04The stark exterior contrasts with an inviting interior style which is light and airy with clean lines.

Longford06 Longford16A feature is the intricate plasterwork recreated in the style of the original. There are obviously still some superb artisans at work in Ireland today.

Longford17 Longford18Another feature, provoking different points of view (perhaps not a bad thing in itself) is the modern stained glass design by a Dominican priest from South Korea. What do you think of it?


Longford11The original church had a number of Harry Clarke stained glass works (a very well-known Dublin artist working mainly in the 1920s, he has come up in earlier blogs) and at least one was able to be restored.


Longford12We walked back to Kathy’s place at the end of the afternoon via a park alongside the river Camlin with views just so typically Irish in our eyes – water, vivid greens, always a spire in the distance… A beautiful, enchanting and enchanted land.


3 thoughts on “St Mel’s Cathedral

  1. Hewitt Harrison

    What am amazing restoration! Well worth the effort and money. A great shame our short-sighted NZ government/local authority can’t see their way clear to restore the Christchurch Cathedral. Not sure I am in tune with the Korean artist (stained glass windows) tho’ I am sure there will be some who are, however misguided.. . . . …..!

  2. MEL

    Well.. there you have it..a church named after me ! Who else can boast such a beautiful monument to themselves? Not skiting at all at all!! You have made my day!!
    Love from MEL

  3. MEL

    RE … the Korean glass works. My brilliant (!) idea is that they were made specifically to keep the congregation awake trying to interpret them while tuning out from boring sermons. Howzat? Bet no one else has come up with that but open to offers.

    Photos brilliant as always dear brother in law .
    MEL XX

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