Stained-glass restoration at St Patrick’s

Pictured: The window in situ and being removed for restoration.

Pictured: The window in situ and being removed for restoration.

Saint Patrick’s Church, Ringsend is at the centre of an intriguing restoration project. Saint Patrick at Tara, a stained-glass artwork by the renowned Harry Clarke studios, designed by Harry Clarke and created under his instructions is in a badly dilapidated state.

Due to the sun’s rays over a long period of time the glass is “peeling, buckling, sagging and bubbling,” according to Dr. Joanne Murphy, a lecturer and archaeologist at the University of North Carolina Greensburg.

The stained-glass mural depicts St. Patrick blessing early members of the Irish church. The figures are depicted in early medieval dress of the time. As Dr. Murphy explained, they were representative of the “pulsating passion and commitment” of early Christian Ireland. These relate to the art nouveau movement of the time (1920s) as well as the Celtic Revival, notable in the strong colours and in particular the reds, greens and blues.

There was an original church that was built in the 19th century in Ringsend. However, in the 20th century a move began to build a more significant church on the grounds of the older one. Such moves were facilitated by the ease of restrictions on Catholic church building in the 19th century, which then facilitated a boom evident in the grander present-day church.

The build was overseen by Canon Mooney with a grant from Cardinal Walsh based on the understanding that Canon Mooney would raise a substantial amount from the local Ringsend community. This was forthcoming and the newer church was built.

However, many of the stained-glass windows were built at later stages by individual families, such as this particular mural. St. Patrick at Tara, commissioned by the local bishop at the time, was installed in 1923.

Photos by Fr. Ivan Tonge and Kevin Ryan.

Photos by Fr. Ivan Tonge and Kevin Ryan.

Sadly this present priceless mural had to be removed quickly for emergency restoration work by the excellent Abbey Stained-Glass studios in Kilmainham. Unfortunately, the grant deadline was not met so it is not possible to receive that money. It is now in need of funding from the public and the community in order to pay the Abbey Stained-Glass studios who undertook a concerted effort to care for this important piece of shared heritage for Ringsend.

They have raised only half of the money needed (€5,000 of €10,000) and are in desperate need of funding. You can fund the campaign for restoration via the link on their homepage

By Kevin McSharry