Christmas Morning Shocker: Majestic Irish Cathedral Destroyed by Fire

The north-central Irish Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise has suffered the tragic loss of its 150-year old cathedral yesterday morning in what may have been an act of arson. Just a few hours after the bishop celebrated Midnight Mass, the fire broke out. By the time it was extinguished the beautiful interior was completely gutted. Of course, it’s too soon to know yet what caused the fire, but given the turmoil still at a fever pitch of shock and anger in Ireland over the recently revealed devastating report of clergy sexual abuse (with a number of bishops resigning in disgrace over it) the possibility of arson is certainly plausible. I pray for my Irish Catholic brethren as they are hit by this new and unexpected blow.

UPDATE: The origin of this fire is being actively investigated, according to this U.K. source, and the possibility that it was caused by arson (perhaps in retaliation against the Catholic Church in Ireland because of the recent sex-scandal report)
is also being widely discussed.


  1. Cathy_of_Alex


  2. Nick

    Why must those who are angry over the destruction of life themselves destroy what belongs to others? Certainly a building is not equal to life, yet the right to property is as inalienable as the right to life.

  3. WI Catholic

    Nick, why do you think it was someone who is pro-life?

  4. Nick

    Re: Nick, why do you think it was someone who is pro-life?I was speaking of those who are angry over the homosexual lifestyle issue that Patrick spoke about.

  5. Nick

    Correction: The people angry over the sex scandal.

  6. Simeon

    The Sanctuary depicted in the photograph is not that of Longford Cathedral. It looks nothing like it.

  7. Tap

    The Church is not a building, the Church is the people in the community of faith here on earth, purgatory and in Heaven. Granted a beautiful 150 year old architectural wonder will not be easy to fix or replace however, in adversity, the early Christian community flowered and grew; may this tragedy open a path to bring the Irish people back together in the community of faith. Sin will always be with us but the gates of hell will never prevail against Holy Mother Church, the spouse of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

  8. Patrick Madrid

    Simeon, I have not been there, but this is a picture that is identified in as an images of the cathedral. Do you have a link to an accurate image?

  9. Dan, here is a link from the Longford/Templemichael parish website, with some pictures of the interior of the cathedral before the fire. The pictures, though not that large, give an idea of just what a beautiful building has been lost. The stained glass windows alone were priceless and irreplaceable.We had a close call in my own Diocese of Kerry a few years ago when an altar in St. Mary's Cathedral caught fire. Thank God the damage that time was limited and didn't spread. That incident was caused by candles which were accidentally left lighting overnight, but I think that the fire at St. Mel's is very likely more sinister in origin and is very likely arson.One thing which you might not be aware of in the States, is that Ireland's weather during Christmas was by our standards very cold this year, with temperatures in the Longford area dropping to around minus 11 centigrade. While this temperature might not seem so terribly low to an American, it was enough to cause a delay of the fire units due to frozen water pipes.

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