01 February 2023
Church Windows

One of the special features of the church is of course windows from the Harry Clarke studios. Formerly situated in Rathfarnham castle, they were donated to the church by the Jesuits. These windows were removed from Rathfarnham castle in March of 1986 when the Jesuits decided to vacate building.

Harry Clarke (1889 - 1931)
Born in Dublin in 1889, Harry Clarke was perhaps Ireland's greatest stained glass artist. Clarke's father was also a craftsman who also produced stained glass windows, so Harry was able to receive training in the art from an early age. Educated first at Marlborough Street School, and then by the Jesuits at Belvedere College.
He left school at the age of fourteen and went to work with his father, Joshua Clarke who had his own business as a church decorator. He worked along with his father while studying at the School of Art. He also studied in London for a short while.
Having been awarded a Scholarship in Stained glass in 1909 he began classes with A.E. Child at the Dublin Art School. After entering the Board of Education National Competition, he won the Gold Medal in the stained glass competition in 1910. The window was "The Consecration of St. Mel of Longford, by St. Patrick".
He went on to win the gold medal for stained glass three times.
Harry Clarke died at the age of 41 in 1931.


St. Brendan
This window shows St. Brendan the Voyager. St. Brendan made many voyages throughout his life and Harry Clarke depicts this attribute of St. Brendan where we see a boat on the sea in a circle above his head. He is said to have been born on the west coast of Ireland near Fenit in Co. Kerry. He was educated by St. Ita for five years and later became a disciple of St. Finian of Clonard.
Brendan seems to be best known in history for his voyages.
Marvellous stories have been told about Brendan's voyages across the Atlantic in search of the Isles of the Blessed.
He also travelled to Scotland and Wales, and he may have made the seven year voyage that the Navigatio tells of. He died while visiting his sister Brig at Annaghdown on Lough Corrib.
St. Brendan is fittingly the patron saint of sailors and his feast day is in 16 May.

St. Patrick
This stained glass window of St. Patrick is one of a few portrayals of St. Patrick attributed to Harry Clarke.
We look to Patrick as the one who brought Christianity to Ireland and banished the snakes from this land. We see how Harry Clarke portrays this with snakes at the feet of Patrick. Also at the tip of St. Patrick's right hand we see a shamrock. All over the world on St. Patrick's Day people wear shamrock in honour of St. Patrick. More modern legend tells of Patrick using the three leaflets of the shamrock in order to teach the doctrine of the Trinity. In this window St. Patrick, Clarke uses the nationalist green which is a very difficult colour to use for the stained glass artist.
St. Benignus
This window of Harry Clarke shows St. Benen, of Benignus. St. Benen or Benignus in Latin, was a convert of St. Patrick, as was his family, but Patrick seemed to have made a particular impression on Benignus. Son of Sessenen, he was converted to Christianity while he was still a child.
In this window Benignus is holding a flame, symbolising the light of the gospel that Patrick brought to Ireland. He is also shown with a green circle around his head depicting his sainthood, and the fact that he was an Irish saint. The window also shows a green stole draped around his neck showing his priestly ministry. The artist also uses the traditionalist green colour in this window as in the window of Patrick,
connecting the two as they were connected in real life. The feast day of St. Benignus in November 9th.

St. Peter
This window shows St. Peter the Apostle. We are very familiar with the story of Peter as it is told in the gospels.
It is clear that Peter had a special relationship with Jesus as it was to Peter that Jesus entrusted the keys of the kingdom of heaven. As we can see Harry Clarke depicts this by showing Peter clasping the keys of the kingdom in his arms in a way that reveals how important Christ was to Peter.
In art he is usually depicted with curly hair and a square cut beard, which Harry Clarke has accurately portrayed in this window of St. Peter.

This stained glass window is that of St. Paul. A Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, St. Paul was a Pharisee and a Roman citizen. Originally called Saul he was educated in the law of Moses by Gamaliel in Jerusalem.
St. Paul was actually a tentmaker by trade, which he probably still practised after he became an apostle for Christ. We see in the window of St. Paul a circle above his head containing a tent pointing to this fact. Also features which have long been attributed to Paul is that on an elderly man carrying a sword, with a thin face, red hair and a pointed beard. Harry Clarke has adequately adhered to this very old iconographical tradition.
St. Ignatius of Loyla
This window of St. Ignatius is very different from the others; both in the colours used art style displayed.
St. Ignatius is relating to Our Lady in this window which I feel makes the window more intimate and draws you into the story and allows you to interpret what might be going on in the window. It is very fitting that this particular window is displayed in our church as it was the Jesuits who donated these windows to the church, so we should be privileged to display a depiction of their founder.
Having had a vision of the Mother of God, he went on pilgrimage to her shrine in Montserrat. This is probably why Ignatius is depicted in this window with Our Lady where Ignatius is offering her his sword in worship.