Saturday, January 30, 2021

"St. Brigid - Harry Clarke's stained-glass window at St. Mary's Church, Ballinrobe, County Mayo"

I was searching for more information about Henry Patrick (Harry) Clarke's St. Brigit imagery in the stained glass windows he designed for various churches. In the process I discovered the above-named article about one particular window, in Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo.

Below are excerpts from Averil Staunton's article on the Historical Ballinrobe website:

Here at St. Mary’s Church, in Ballinrobe, County Mayo one of Harry Clarkes’s final works prior to his death was the large three-light window located at the organ gallery, representing three of the patron saints of Ireland; St Brigid is represented in one of the panels; the others being St. Patrick and St. Colmcille.

Description of St. Brigid’s representation

This very large panel shows St. Brigid as a nun in an elaborately trimmed and tasselled veil elegantly falling in pleats over her shoulders; she wears a coif headpiece, which includes a decorated cap and a turquoise wimple or guimpe with a long tassel to the front.

Her habit coloured brown is worn over a longer undergarment with an embroidered trim at its full-length hem. These garments were often loose and pleated from the neckline and can have two sets of sleeves, the larger of which can be worn folded up for work or folded down for ceremonial occasions, but in this case, it appears to be her cloak that is covering her white sleeves with a ruffled trim.

St. Brigid’s scapular is a deep turquoise colour with an overlaid intricate Celtic pattern in black. Her stole is turquoise with a long fringe. Over these garments is a purple cloak, heavily decorated on the inside hemline.

We get a tiny glimpse of Clarke’s awareness of Ireland’s heritage with the elaborate silken pointed-toe, embellished elegant tapering, green pointed slippers, which may be inspired by the Shrine of St. Brigid at the National Museum of Ireland...


St. Brigid’s overhead emblem is five green oak leaves and acorns represent a ‘Cill’ meaning cell or church. In Irish ‘An Daire’ means is a type of oak tree, so Kildare means “Church of the Oak” where she founded her church...

Staunton ends with three recommended resources, including her own book on the artist's work:

Further reading:

 Fahey, Denis, “An Irishman’s Diary,” Irish Times, January, 27 January 2015 p 17

 O’Hanlon,John, Lives of the Irish Saints, Duffy & Sons, London, Vol  ll & lll

 Staunton, Averil, Harry Clarke’s Liquid Light, BAHS, Ballinrobe, 2014, p 39


Images: From Saint Mary's Church, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. Uncredited.

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