Seeing ourselves in stained glass - a comparative study of nineteenth and twentieth-century Irish stained glass.
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The aims of this thesis are to examine how biblical themes in the stained glass in 20th century Irish churches reflect re-emerging Catholic identity. In order to do this it focuses on two Roman Catholic buildings – Loughrea Cathedral built in 1903, with stained glass produced from 1903 to 1957 by An Túr Gloine, and the Honan Chapel built in the Hiberno-Romanesque style in 1916 and decorated by An Túr Gloine and Harry Clarke. A detailed iconographical study of the windows is undertaken. It looks for indicators of particularly Roman Catholic iconography within a biblical context. It also surveys recent scholarship indicating the connection between French and Irish Catholicism of the period, examining how the re-emerging stature of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland drew inspiration from the French Catholic Revival (1905-1944). It explores the centrality of Catholicism and its imagery to the identity of the new state following political independence. Ricoeur’s theory on identity is consulted in order to make conclusions. Finally, it makes comparisons between 20th century Roman Catholic iconography and the biblical iconography of the Church of Ireland of the late 19th century, by examining the stained glass windows in St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork. The conclusions it makes are that early twentieth century Irish stained glass reflected Irish Catholic identity which was re-emerging following Catholic emancipation. It offers a new perspective on how Irish Roman Catholics restructured and fostered an identity which was projected to the outside world at the beginning of the twentieth century.
KeywordsStained glass windows
An Túr Gloine
French Catholic revival