“A kind of gospel in glass”: stained glass from the Church of the Holy Trinity, Fethard, Tipperary.

“A kind of gospel in glass”: stained glass from the Church of the Holy Trinity, Fethard, Tipperary.

Every so often I have blogged pictures of stained glass, mainly from various Tipperary locales but also from further afield. I have found that this has led me to discoveries like the windows of Cloneen and the work of Murphy Devitt Studios.

Looking out for stained glass had made me aware of beauty that I would not have noticed otherwise. I have visited Fethard, Co Tipperary, very many times, and I have visited the Church of the Holy Trinity (the Catholic one) once or twice. It had struck me before as an imposing facade but I had not been particularly drawn to it, as opposed to the  Augustinian Abbey down the road .

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Visiting again with a deliberate eye to stained glass, all was changed. There is a wide range of styles and settings for the stained glass here, from traditional pious image to stylised, near-impressionistic works. It is an immensely rewarding experience to visit, an once again I can only apologise for the quality of the camera work.

Indeed, for this post I initially thought I would split the post into three or even four, but have decided to use slideshows to help illustrate the range of work.

On entering the Church, one finds stained glass work on the doors inside. These images are among the hardest to photograph as the stairs and floor behind the glass tended to crowd out the image. These panels features a range of saints and symbols:

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Above the entrance doors to this lobby we see a wonderful window depicting the Trinity. Visual depictions of God the Father are generally rare, so I thought this warranted a close-up:

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Into the main church, and in a series of panels just above the very back of the nave we have the text of the Apostles Creed with appropriate imagery.  First a rather ill-lit image of the whole thing:

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And now a slide show (particular apologies for slide quality):

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There is a beautiful chapel of Perpetual Adoration here (although it was empty when I visited) which features the  most distinctively “modern” glass:

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20170621_13565920170621_13565120170621_135706(0)A particularly delightful feature was the pair of windows in the choir balcony, either side of the organ. These feature Biblical images of music, featuring Kings David (I am reasonably confident) and Solomon (I am less confident):

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Here is a close up of Solomon (I think):

20170621_135858The main body of the church features a range of striking windows. I thought I discerned a loose theme of education (broadly defined):

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There were also images of grief evident in another side chapel. For some reason I didn’t get a photo of the main central image which as far as I recall was the Crucifixion:

There were also four images of the evangelists on the lower windows each side of the transept:

20170621_13551920170621_13552620170621_13554420170621_135553Finally, here is the altarpiece itself:

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All in all, this visit was one of the most revelatory of my stained glass experience. It was a treat to see so much glass in one, relatively modest, parish church, and imagery of such richness and suggestive power. I felt something of what it might have been like in a more visually literate culture, where this imagery was a sort of gospel in glass.

Stained Glass of Augustinian Priory, Fethard

Stained Glass of Augustinian Priory, Fethard

Recently visiting various churches in Clonmel I was struck by how striking the stained glass windows were. None were particularly celebrated or well-recognised, yet were – quite apart from any religious consideration – beautiful, literally luminous works of art. It struck me that they deserve to be celebrated and recorded. Perhaps there is somewhere, online or in a book, which the stained glass windows of Tipperary are collected, but here is my humble effort in that line.

These images are from the Augustinian Priory in Fethard. This church features a window of Our Lady of Fatima by Harry Clarke, Ireland’s premier stained glass artist. While looking for Harry Clarke links from this post I came across this story which illustrates that stained glass can embody high passions still.

 

Our Lady of Fatima window, Harry Clarke – South Wall, Holy Trinity Priory, Fethard

 

 

Detail of Our Lady of Fatima Window

 

 

Detail, Our Lady of Fatima window

 

 

 

Detail, Our Lady of Fatima Window

 

Detail, Our Lady of Fatima window

 

Being an Augustinian Priory, naturally there is a window dedicated to St Augustine. In the North Wall, this features Augustine and his mother, Monica. Augustine, who famously asked God to “make me chaste, but not yet”, eventually followed his mother into Christianity. Towards the end of her life, Monica discussed heaven with Augustine , described in the Confessions as  a beatific preview of the life to come. This window is  evidently based on this painting by Ary Scheffer of the scene.

Finally, in a side chapel is a window featuring the Augustinian friar Nicholas of Tolentino and the Augustinian nun Clare of Montefalco (“St Clare of the Cross”) , whose vision of Jesus carrying the cross is depicted here.