A Historic cathedral burned to the ground on Christmas morning -- just hours after a bishop talked about an arson attack on a convent in 1642.
St Mel's Cathedral in Longford and its contents -- including records and precious artefacts -- were destroyed after a fire started in the back of the 19th century building in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Emergency services were called to the cathedral, in the centre of Longford town, at 4.45am -- just hours after Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise Colm O'Reilly referred to a previous blaze in his Christmas homily.
A resident on nearby Chapel Street raised the alarm after he noticed flames coming from the building. Fire officers battled to save the 19th century cathedral, pumping water from a canal, but it was left in ruins.
Yesterday, Bishop O'Reilly said it was a "dreadful day" for him personally. "It's the kind of nightmare that you never thought you would ever suffer.