Saturday, 13 December 2014


Sometime in the early eighties, it was Easter week and I was walking on the footpath between the church and the pubs in Lisgoold, possibly I may have been putting mail in the post or getting a few messages at Wood’s shop. I met a few young people, they could have been in their early teens. They told me that they had been to the Cathedral. I was  rather taken aback. Then I discovered that they were from Cobh and they were just spinning around. Their church was St. Colman’s in Cobh and they wrongly thought that every church was a cathedral – understandable of course in their limited experience. 

As we should all know there is just one Cathedral in each diocese. However, Dublin does not have a Cathedral, the ProCathedral in the city centre functions for all intents and purposes as the cathedral. The church which has the bishops chair – called the ‘cathedra’ gives us the name ‘Cathedral’. They are usually a more ornate church as Cobh Cathedral most certainly is. Not just its situation overlooking Cork harbour but also the wonderful workmanship evident in the whole building, stone, wood carving, stain glass and the plaster work. It is indeed a place worth visiting and taking a guided tour of the edifice. As we can all appreciate the people of Cobh are rightly proud of their parish church which also happens to be the Cathedral church for the diocese of Cloyne. Many diocesan events take place there such as the Chrism mass during Holy week, the various occasions throughout the year when the canons gather for the office and mass. 

On Thursday morning while listening to  RTE radio one there was an item from Longford. There was mention of the restoration of the Cathedral of St. Mel in that town, which is in the diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois. The Cathedral had been seriously damaged in a fire the morning of Christmas ’09. It was interesting to hear the local people on the radio speak about the sense of loss that Christmas morning and it helps to appreciate their determination to have it up and running once again. It is due to be reopened at Christmas. No doubt there will be much coverage of the event in the media over the next several weeks. I did read somewhere that it is one of the biggest restoration projects in Europe and that many apprentices had received invaluable experience on the job. The slogan which expressed the aim and hope of the Cathedral project committee ‘faithful to the past, building for the future’. The last Cathedral to have been built in Ireland was the Galway one which opened on the 15th August 1965. In 1998 when I was in Cairs, Australia it was their third Cathedral since 1927! Cathedral building is now a rarity in Ireland so I am sure you will join with me in sending best wishes to the people of Longford and the diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois. No doubt there will be tears of joy in St. Mels Cathedral this Christmas. 

May God bless the work.
                                                     Sl├ín, Fr. Jack 

St. Colman's Cathedral, Cobh

St. Mel's Cathedral, Longford during restoration