Is Lismore’s beloved Cathedral a disaster magnet?

COULD St Carthage’s be considered the unluckiest cathedral in the country?

Or perhaps its survival over past 113 years means the Lismore landmark which has overcome natural and man-made disasters including arson, massive storm damage and significant floods is in fact the luckiest?

In September 2020, Stephen Anthony Luke, 45, was charged over deliberately setting fire to the cathedral, which firefighters said could have “become another Notre Dame” situation.

In October the Diocese of Lismore was contacted about the cost of repair but had no comment at the time.

In 2007 the church, which was built between 1904 and 1907, suffered significant hail damage after a massive storm.

St Carthage’s Cathedral in Lismore suffered fire damage in September 2020. Photo: Alison Paterson

The cathedral had dozens of its original stained-glass windows smashed, downpipes burst and one-in-four of the roof slates were broken.

No quick fix, the building took years to be completely refurbished and repaired as the brickwork had to be hand-cleaned due to the age and delicate nature of the brick and terracotta.

In 2016 the extensive renovation was completed and the roof alone involved 18 months of painstaking work, hundreds of metres of scaffolding and 77,000 Welsh slate tiles and the wrought-iron cresting also had to be removed to be repaired and painted.

Traditional techniques were used in the lead flashing, copper pipe and gutter work.

The $1.5 million works included the installation of patterned marble flooring down the aisles, in front of the altar and behind the pews, as well as the repositioning of the altar and an extension of the burial vaults space.

The renovations were funded through a combination of donations and cost-planning in the church budget since 2003.

The cathedral celebrated its centenary in 2007.

The Diocese of Lismore has been contacted for comment.

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