By Ray Cleere
The official name of Longford parish is Templemichael and Ballymacormack. It was created in the late 1700s and is of comparatively recent origin in an Irish context. There had also been a Dominican Friary in Longford town which was founded in the early 1400s.
The two distinct parishes of Templemichael and Ballymacormack were linked to other surrounding parishes in the diocese before the current parish was formed.
Templemichael was previously listed with Clonguish parish and it had links with Moydow and Killoe parishes at later times.
Ballymacormack had a long connection with Killashee which dated back to the early 1500s. It was joined with Moydow parish for a time in the 1700s.
St. Mel’s Cathedral in Longford is named in honour of St. Mel who died in the year 488.
He was a contemporary of St. Patrick and he was the first Bishop of Ardagh.
The foundation stone of the Cathedral was laid 175 years ago on May 18, 1840, by Bishop O’Higgins, just before the Great Famine began and which caused so much misery and death in the following decade.
Construction of the Cathedral was delayed and it did not open for worship until 1856, almost 160 years ago, by which time John Kilduff became bishop of the diocese.
The entrance lobby and the 200 feet high Bell Tower, designed by John Bourke, were completed in 1863.