Cathedral suffers its second fire in four years
CHURCH authorities were last night counting the cost of damage caused by fire to one of the country's most famed cathedrals, its second blaze in four years.
Damage to St Mary's Cathedral in Killarney, Co Kerry, could rise to more than €100,000 after what is believed to be an electrical fire broke out in the sacristy yesterday morning. A garda forensic unit is investigating the scene.
Shocked parishioners who turned up for 10.30am Mass yesterday looked on in horror as smoke rose from the historic building. Five units of the fire brigade from Killarney, Tralee and Killorglin attended the blaze.
"The fire was confined to the sacristy but there was some smoke damage to the main building," said Kerry senior assistant fire officer, Eoin O'Donnell.
Curate Fr Kevin McNamara said the situation could have been a lot worse if it hadn't been for the quick action of sacristan Tadhg Fleming.
"Mr Fleming opened the church at 8am and when he returned at 9.30am to prepare for Mass he was pushed back by the volume of smoke," Fr McNamara told the Irish Independent.
"The position could have been a lot worse and we were lucky with the time it occurred."
A major blaze gutted the cathedral in 2006, causing more than €500,000 worth of damage. The cathedral -- designed by the famous Gothic revival architect Augustus Pugin -- had celebrated its 150th anniversary the previous year. An extensive restoration project was carried out in the 1970s by the then Bishop of Kerry, Eamon Casey.
Mayor of Killarney Donal O'Grady said the cathedral was the pride of the town. "We think the world of the cathedral and we're just thankful that the alarm was raised so quickly," he said.