Restoration work on a Longford cathedral badly damaged by a fire on Christmas Day 2009 is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

After a tender process, a letter of intent was issued by the St Mel's Cathedral Project Committee to Longford building firm GEM Construction Ltd, in association with Galway firm Purcell Construction.

Work is expected to begin in the next three weeks.

The committee hopes that the building can be reopened by Christmas 2014.

It is also hoped the local economy will benefit significantly from what will be a substantial project.