IT was reduced to a shell in a fire on Christmas Day almost two years ago.
But yesterday, thousands of people gathered at St Mel's Cathedral in Longford town to get a glimpse of the work so far to restore the gutted landmark.
About 3,000 people waited patiently outside the cathedral all day in order to survey the damage caused by the devastating Christmas Day blaze.
Construction began on the historic church in 1840 and it eventually opened in 1856.
"It's been at the heart of the community for generations," said parish priest Fr Tom Healy. "There's a great sense of loss."
Restoration will take about five years to complete and will cost into the millions. However, church officials are hoping to re-open by Christmas 2014.
Now that the building has been made safe, the next phase of the restoration will be to design its reconstruction, with construction due to begin next summer. Insurance will cover the cost of rebuilding, while donations are being collected for additional refurbishment.
The cause of the blaze remains unknown.