Illuminating history: the restoration of Cavan’s RC Cathedral

The Cathedral of Saint Patrick and Saint Felim is a monumental neo-classic building located in Cavan Town, completed in 1942. The 68m spire and flanking domes make it the most dominant building in the area, and the vast interior with 28 columns is awe-inspiring. However, the building was often viewed as gloomy due to its aging electrical installations and soaring energy prices. Therefore, in 2022, Callaghan Electrical was appointed to carry out the rewiring of the iconic building.

The essential works included the replacement of existing electrical installations, fire safety installations and the integration of new technologies while restoring, retaining and enhancing the integrity of the authentic historic fabric of the building. Kieran Callaghan, Managing Director of Callaghan Electrical, said, “When it came to our lighting specialist, based on previous projects, we had no hesitation in working with Zumtobel and Thorn products. The quality of their products, lighting designs, service and availability has always been at the forefront of innovation.”

Internally, subtlety was key, as the Cathedral is adorned with a rich mix of exceptional craftsmanship and artistry. 

Conor Brannelly, Key Account Manager, Zumtobel Group commented, “We needed optimal effect to reflect all the Cathedral’s beauty. So, we decided the best course of action was to hide the interior lighting by using our colour service via My Product to blend in with the building.”

Zumtobel’s colour-matched contemporary VIVO 2 LED spotlights and slim and discreet LINELIGHT luminaires were introduced to complement the restored historic brass pendants, revealing and enhancing the design and craftsmanship of the original building’s interior. The combination of these low-energy LED products created an atmosphere and reverence worthy of the house of worship, with high-quality light that enables the congregation to read and participate in service easily. 

Zumtobel, together with sister brand Thorn, selected various beam angles to meet all the lighting requirements across the space – wide beams to wash over surfaces, medium beams for the pews and narrow beams for highlighting the many historic features. Externally, Thorn’s Contrast RGBW architectural floodlights with DMX controls optimised the lux levels at the front façade and spire to enhance the cathedral’s historic and architectural beauty. The exterior car park and Cathedral entrance were illuminated with Thorn’s Avenue D2, customised to a specific RAL colour to complement the building and the existing luminaires. Ian Brodigan, Branch Manager Eastern Electrical Dundalk, recommended Zumtobel and Thorn Lighting for the project, and concluded, “As a major partner supplier, I felt that their design, technical expertise and extensive product offering would enhance this iconic upgrade, and this proved to be the case. This upgrade has become a historical focal point for the town of Cavan. It is a visually stunning upgrade.”

Overall, the internal and external LED lighting provides an excellent low-energy solution with a very long life, reducing the need for maintenance and saving both cost and time.

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