Stained glass from St Mary’s Church, Grangemockler, Tipperary

Stained glass from St Mary’s Church, Grangemockler, Tipperary

Grangemockler Church is most famous for its links to Michael Hogan, victim of the 1920 Bloody Sunday and namesake of the stand.
It has a selection of attractive stained glass, including images of a pelican  (believed to feed it’s own blood to its young, and therefore akin to Christ, more info here) St Patrick and the Crucifixion 

Many churches will have many panels of relatively plain stained glass, some indeed barely coloured at all. This glass is less striking than other pieces usually, but here is a good example of how light can illuminate  even a plain ish window into something more…. not that this photo adequately captured the effect:

Here is another panel, more elaborate but not represational as such, which I found striking.  

In Praise of Mulled Apple & Blackcurrant Juice from The Apple Farm of Tipperary

Spring has been here for some time. Indeed, before most people notice, the seasons shift subtly. And yet, the last few days have seen weather which makes it feel more truly spring, in the sense of spring as a herald of summer. March, once again, is that gateway month from spring–post-winter to spring-pre-summer.

With my usual timing, I am going to praise a very winter product. Indeed, despite the Springtime weather, the last few days I have had a heavy cold and this product has been a wonderful tonic.

The Apple Farm of Tipperary will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next year. As the website itself says :

The Apple Farm is located in county Tipperary in the south of Ireland. Apples have been grown in this area for hundreds of years, and since 1968 we have been planting more orchards to increase our supply. As well as apples, we grow pears, plums, sweet cherries, strawberries and raspberries. We also have a Camping and Caravan Park on the farm. And when we are not busy with this, you will find us making apple juice, and mixed juices from our other fruits; all done here on the farm. We even make a sparkling apple juice, and cider vinegar here too.
We have a farm shop from which our produce is available all year round.

The Apple Farm is a wonderful place to visit. Their product is always fantastic but nothing has impressed me more than their Mulled Apple & Blackcurrant drink. Gently heated, this gives a pleasing warming sensation, with a slight fruit kick.

Here’s a pic of the label (front and back), which is a beautifully clear design:

Really I recommend all the Apple Farm products that I have tried but especially this one.

Bird feeding in Mid March – Greenfinches

Continuing my occasional bird feeding notes – but this time with original pictures!

The wonderfully-shot Wild Ireland documentary inspired me to reconsider my childhood dream job – wildlife photographer/cameraman. Why did this ever fall off my radar? Partly the common adolescent/late teenage/early adulthood loss of interest in wildlife, partly a certain lack of confidence in my artistic ability in general.

Recently, of course, most of us carry a digital camera every where we go via our smartphones. I have tried taking photos of animals, but what in real life is a magnificent, clearly visible creature is a small dot in most photos I have taken.

This has changed somewhat with the advent of a bird feeder that sticks to the window. After some time birds seem fairly OK with feeding while I am there. One rather well-fed looking greenfinch in particular seems to be quite happy with my (relative) proximity:

Murphy Devitt Studios Stained Glass in Chapel of St Anthony, Franciscan Abbey, Clonmel

This installment of the occasional images of stained glass I post, mainly (but not exclusively) from Tipperary, has a little more detail than usual. The last Tipperary post I made was on the unexpected delight of discovering the stained class in the Church of the Visitation in Cloneen. Today I made another delightfully unexpected discovery. I took some shots of the stained glass in the Chapel of St Anthony in the Franciscan Abbey, Clonmel. In the corner of the one of the panels was the following:

 

This allowed me to find out the glass was made by Murphy Devitt studios. From that page:

In the early 1950s at Harry Clarke Studios, Dublin, John (Johnny) Murphy and John (Des) Devitt first met. By 1958 Johnny and Des along with Johnny’s wife Róisín Dowd Murphy decided to strike out alone and immediately started to create some of the most stunning stained glass ever seen in Ireland and beyond. It was a relationship that lasted almost fifty years, most notably in the form of Murphy/DevittStudios Limited from 1969-1990. In 2006, shortly after the passing of Des Devitt, Johnny was quoted as saying “we only ever wanted to create the best work we possibly could and we were happy that we did”. Within 2006 Des, Johnny and Róisín all passed away but their legacy of literally hundreds, quite possibly thousands, of the most avant-garde, radical and truly beautiful stained glass windows live on in the churches, public buildings and homes of Ireland and beyond.

 And so to the present day. Reiltín Murphy and Anthony Devitt are delighted to bring you this website dedicated to the work of these wonderful characters and talents. As we build the site we look forward to crediting every person who worked with the Murphy/Devitt partnership over the years. We welcome all contact from anyone with any information or stories you would like to share with us. Please click on the Contact tab above to get in touch.

The ultimate aim of our project is to provide a comprehensive catalogue and history of this incredible, life-long, partnership which continues to this day between the Murphy and Devitt families. Reiltín is immersed in hundreds of original cartoons and drawings and chasing down locations while Anthony is sifting through documentation, slides and photographs. If you have any information please DO contact us and don’t assume we know as we are finding out new things every day.

There is also a wonderful gallery of some Murphy Devitt work on the homepage of John Murphy’s daughter, Reiltín.

So, even more so than usual, it is with some embarrassment that I post my not very well taken photos of the beautiful work made by the Murphy Devitt studio. These wonderful pieces were created by artists whose techniques and approaches I know very little about. And my smartphone camera skills are probably adequate for family shots, but not to do this work justice. But here goes…:


“Teach us to care and not to care/ Teach us to sit still.” Ash Wednesday

“Teach us to care and not to care/ Teach us to sit still.” Ash Wednesday

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An Ash Wednesday I’ll Never Forget:

Chesterton did not actually say that those of us who don’t believe in God will believe in anything, but he ought to have because it’s true. Between the ages of 12 and 20, before I began my return to the Church on February 17, 2010, I believed in, among other things, Buddhism, vegetarianism, pacifism, gay marriage, Marxism, libertarianism, literary criticism and – most shamefully, I think – the literary merits of Finnegans Wake.

Priests looking for youth evangelisation strategies should note that was only the penultimate item on this list that did me any good, for had I not one day found myself writing a rather dull and pointless essay on Yeats and TS Eliot, I might never have returned to the faith. Perhaps the Catholic Truth Society should do up a neat little pamphlet on FR Leavis. But let me back up.

I was a very pious child who grew up fearing hell with an almost physical intensity. Even the sight of shoulder devils in cartoons could fill me with dread. Yet I also struggled from an early age with very grave doubts. I distinctly remember lying in bed aged seven and thinking to myself: “When you die, there is nothing.”

Fast forward half a decade and I had become one of those obnoxious 12-year-olds who should not be allowed to read books. When my catechism teacher told us that skipping Mass was a mortal sin, I decided that there probably wasn’t a hell or a heaven, much less a God who cared what any of us did with his time on Sundays or any other day of the week.

At some point towards the end of my teenage years I ceased to be a thoroughgoing materialist. (How I unclasped myself from Feuerbach’s dank tendrils and came to believe in Something rather than nothing is difficult to say, but I chalk it up to falling seriously in love for the first time and listening to Van Morrison.)

I then became, or so I like fondly to think, America’s last earnest pagan. I do not mean that I worshipped Zeus or Diana – the closest I ever came was burning lavender-scented incense while reciting from Keats, a practice I would heartily recommend to all students reading English. But I did pay homage, almost literally, to things like grey waves, thunderstorms, autumnal leaves, the faces of beautiful women, the smell of lilacs and the first snow. Whatever was out there, the quaint little story about a Nazarene seemed to me too small for it.

Is it strange to say that I cannot remember anything else about that day in February? I have no idea what I ate for breakfast or how cold it was or whether that afternoon was one of those rare occasions on which I did anything at my Gogolian make-work job in the Office of Financial Aid. All I know is that at some point in the course of working on a literary essay I consulted Eliot’s Collected Poems and happened upon “Ash Wednesday”, which I had never much cared for.

But that day in the library I found myself utterly transfixed by this desperate plea for the intercession of our Mother written by an agnostic. (One of my fondest discoveries of recent years has been to learn how much of the poem is a pastiche of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin.) I was especially by these lines from the third stanza:

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain

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Section 1 of Ash Wednesday:

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

Kilkieran High Crosses

Kilkieran High Crosses  are (just) in Co Kilkenny and, along with nearby Ahenny and Killamery, are part of the Ossory Group of High Crosses. Peter Harbison, in the paper A High Cross Base from the Rock of Cashel and a Historical Reconsideration of the ‘Ahenny Group’ of Crosses discusses how these crosses, located on the Ossory side of the border of the kingdoms of Ossory and Caiseal (the Linguan River), marked assertions of local power.

The West Cross at Kilkieran is particularly striking:


Kilkieran also features an unusual high cross, an elongated, somewhat Mannerist-ish structure:

There is also what is referred to on the megalithic Ireland page as the “Plain Cross”, to the East of the West Cross (well, obviously)