Harry Clarke Stained Glass Windows

St. Patrick’s Church, Glenamaddy 

Tripartite Ascension Window

A striking feature of St. Patrick’s Church in Glenamaddy is the tripartite stained glass window inserted in the south-facing gable wall overlooking the high altar. This work was created in the Harry Clarke Studios in North Frederick Street, Dublin, and depicts the Ascension of Our Lord into heaven. Harry Clarke’s stained glass is distinguished by the finesse of its drawing and the use of rich colours. Intricate detail, glowing colours and artistic imagination form the hallmark of the stained glass made in his studios. The magnificent depiction of the Ascension which dominates the sanctuary affirms the faith of worshipers, reminding them of the divinity of Christ with the promise of salvation. The triple aspect of the design represents the Holy Trinity, three persons in one God. Ordered by Fr. Thomas Heany P.P. from the Harry Clarke Studios in Dublin in 1924 at a cost of £385, the prominent inscriptions etched on the lower left-hand corners of the three separate panels provide the names of the generous sponsors. Allowing for indexation and conversion, the equivalent outlay in 2019 would amount to about €25,000.00. In 2008 the Ascension windows were professionally restored by Colette Langan, Langan Stained Glass, Carrick-on-Shannon, an acknowledged expert in the field. The panels were dismantled and each individual piece of glass was cleaned, restored and replaced in new lead casing. Once restored, the windows were returned and reinstated, destined to provide solace, reassurance and inspiration for worshippers for years to come. A documentary DVD charting the restoration work and incorporating the history of the church later won a County Heritage Award.Stained glass has been used in places of worship down through the ages to depict important biblical events and to make edifices aesthetically appealing. During the Middle Ages in particular, when literacy rates were low, churches often acted  as education centres where stained glass images served as useful visual aids. Artists used stained glass of different colours to create beautiful representations of Biblical events and religious personages that reinforced the congregation’s attachment to their faith. Stained glass church windows became very fashionable in the Middle Ages when they not only served to portray religious scenes and stories but also helped to increase the reputations of the artists who created them and the wealthy benefactors who commissioned them. They were a practical solution to the challenge of designing large windows that illuminated extensive spaces while not letting in too much light. They also minimised external distractions and helped create an atmosphere which was conducive to prayer.

The Ascension Triple Stained Glass Window Attributions

  • The panel on the left-hand side (town side) was sponsored by Mrs Owens, Mrs Collins, Rev. Thomas Heany and the people of the Parish
  • The panel in the centre was gifted by James Connolly in memory of his wife and her parents, Malachy and Margaret Keaveney and Rev P. Keaveny and The Garvey Family – P., ML., MT. & THOS.
  • The panel on the right-hand side (Dunmore side) was donated by Rev. Thomas Heany, P.P. 

The Blessed Virgin Mary Stained Glass Window

The side altar in what was formerly known as the ‘ladies’ side aisle’, on the Dunmore side of the nave, is illuminated by the light filtering through the adjacent stained glass window depicting The Blessed Virgin Mary. This window was donated by Rev. John Keaveny in 1924 in memory of his father, John.

The Saint Joseph Stained Glass Window

On the town side of the nave the stained glass window depicting Saint Joseph, gifted by the Teachers of the Parish in 1924, overlooks the side altar in what was referred to in past as the ‘men’s side aisle’. The two windows depicting Our Lady and Saint Joseph cost £95. Allowing for indexation and conversion the cost in 2019 would approximate to €6.000.00 

 The Rose Stained Glass Window

The Rose Widow which is located above the gallery on the north gable depicts the Lamb of God.  It was commissioned by Fr James Kelly, P.P. in 1940 and fitted by A. W. Lyons Studio, Dublin. The circle represents harmony and balance. Christ, represented by the Lamb of God, is at the centre with the Greek letters, Alpha (the beginning) and Omega (the end), on either side. Around this is a perfectly balanced arrangement of pictures, symbols and images from Sacred Scripture – the Cross, the pierced hands and feet, the Sacred Heart, the grapes. These are connected to the centre like the spokes of a wheel. The lesson that the window teaches is that by keeping Christ as the centre of our lives all our work and efforts will be in harmony with Him. The window has four main points representing the earth, with its four corners, four winds and four seasons. These are all centred on Christ. It also has two sets of sixteen lesser points and thirty-two smaller points, representing Heaven and Earth, all centred on Christ. The inscription on a brass plate mounted on the wall beneath the window reads: “I nDíl Chuimhne Athar Séamus Ó Ceallaigh S.P.” (“In loving memory of Fr. James Kelly P.P.”)

The Annunciation Stained Glass Window

Canon John Walsh, P.P. ordered the Annunciation stained-glass window from the Early Studios in Dublin in 1952.  It is positioned in the sanctuary to the left of the main altar, directly opposite the sacristy door and is best observed from this stand point. It was donated by Kathleen Hurley of Corlach House, Ballymoe, in memory of her father, Edward Hurley.

Related Biographical Information

Fr John Keaveny:

Fr. John Keaveny was born in Classaghroe c. 1890. He is recorded as being 11 years of age in the 1901 census and was then residing in house 22 with his parents John and Bridget and siblings, Patrick, Catherine, Malachy, Mary, Ellen and Thomas. By 1911 John Junior was away from home, studying for the priesthood in Maynooth seminary. By 1911 his father, John, is deceased and his mother, Bridget, is listed as the head of the household with siblings Patrick, Catherine and Malachy still in residence there. His siblings Michael, Mary, Margaret and Thomas are present in House 38 Glenamaddy village on the night of the 1911 census.  John was ordained in Maynooth College on 17th June 1917. He served in Headford, Keel, Achill, Lecanvey and Williamstown parishes before finishing his priestly ministry as P.P. in Kilkerrin where he died on 5th August 1968. He was buried in the grounds of Kilkerrin church.

Canon John Walsh P.P.:

Canon John Walsh was parish priest in Glenamaddy from 1947 to 1959. Prior to that, he had served in Motherwell in Scotland, Athenry, the Aran Islands, Clonberne and Aughamore in Co. Mayo.  He was born in Hollymount, Co. Mayo and ordained in Maynooth. He gained a reputation for being very kind to the poor. He was a reserved person with a great love of nature and animals. He kept some pure-bred shorthorn cattle on the land attached to the parochial house. His favourite pastime was reading from his extensive library of books. He didn’t smoke or drink but always kept a drink in the house for visitors. He was buried in Glenamaddy church grounds.

Fr. Thomas Heany P.P.:

Fr Heany was appointed parish priest in Glenamaddy in 1919. He was ordained in 1885 and spent ten years in Spiddal before arriving in Glenamaddy. He farmed the land attached to the parochial house by keeping cattle, including at least one cow to supply domestic needs.  His housekeeper, Miss Walsh, also took an interest in farming by raising pigs and poultry. Bishop Fergus described Fr. Heany as “A man severe he was, and stern to view”, a quote from Oliver Goldsmith. “But he had a kind heart and was exceedingly straightforward; you always knew where you stood with him.” He kept a fine horse which was bred in Woodfield and used a trap to get around. In 1924 he had the Clarke windows fitted in the sanctuary area of the church which today are regarded as great treasures. Ten years later, in 1934 he had new Stations of the Cross erected, replacing the earlier picture versions. He died in 1939 and became the first serving priest in the parish to be buried in St. Patrick’s Church grounds.

Fr James Kelly P.P.:

Fr James Kelly was 75 years of age when he came to Glenamaddy as parish priest in 1939. He did not come to Glenamaddy to retire or take things easy. In many ways he had the energy and drive of a man of 50. He built new schools in Lisheenaheltia and Clondoyle and proved to be a formidable negotiator when haggling with the Department of Education over the extent of state grants which determined the amount the parish would have to pay towards their construction. Another of his great achievements was the installation of new windows in the parish church. They were designed and fitted by A.W. Lyons & Son, Dublin, in 1940. He had all the inscriptions written in Irish. He came to the parish from Spiddal where he acquired a love of the Irish language that never left him. He donated the Rose Window to the church from his personal resources. He was still an idealist as he approached his eightieth birthday, never missing a Muintir na Tíre Rural Week, admiring the vision and enthusiasm of its founder, Canon Hayes. With advancing years his eyesight began to fail. Tommy Shannon who was a pupil in St. Joseph’s N.S., Glenamaddy, in the 1940s, frequently served mass for him at irregular times and also read aloud from the newspapers to him and wrote letters which he dictated when he could no longer write or read. He also dictated the early stages of books on St Therese of Lisieux and St. Laurence O’Toole, both of whom he greatly admired, but never got to complete because of his advancing years and failing health. He was very generous and made a lasting impression on the young Tommy Shannon who later joined the priesthood, serving as a curate in Castlebar and later as Monsignor in Ballinrobe. Fr Kelly died on 17th January 1947 and was interred in the grounds of Glenamaddy church.

Collins Family:

In 1901 Martin B. Collins was a shopkeeper living with his wife, Jane Frances, on the Creggs Road. By 1911 they had 10 children. When Martin B. died in 1913 the business continued to be operated by his son, John Joe, until his premature death in 1918. M.B. Collins is listed in Glenamaddy Union Workhouse minutes as one of the merchants who supplied clothing to the institution in 1894. Two of his sisters, Josephine and Ciss continued to run the business until it was purchased by Willie Mannion in 1961. The premises of Martin B. Collins, ‘Martin Bs’, was known as one of the leading businesses in the town of Glenamaddy for more than half of the 20th century. It included a drapery shop, grocery, hardware and bar. The store had a ‘ceiling pully system’ for payments.

Fr. Patrick Keaveny:

Fr. Patrick Keaveny was a brother of Catherine McDermott, and Mrs Connelly (Connolly), The Square, Glenamaddy. St. Patrick’s Church records show that he was baptised on 22nd April 1860. He was ordained as a deacon on 21st June 1896 in Maynooth when he would have been 36 years of age. In 1907 he is recorded as serving as a curate in the parish of Killeen, Carraroe, in the diocese of Tuam. At the time of his death it is believed that he was attached to the parish of Menlough. He died suddenly while visiting his sister, Catherine, in Glenamaddy on 8th August 1915. His Requiem Mass as reported in the Roscommon Messenger was concelebrated by Fr. O’Reilly C.C., Glenamaddy, Fr. Owens C.C., Westport, Fr. Garvey Adm., Clare Island and Fr. Conway P.P., Glenamaddy, (Master of Ceremonies) in St. Patrick’s Church, Glenamaddy, on Tuesday 10th August 1915. A large contingent of his fellow-priests from the diocese and a grief-stricken congregation were present to hear the celebrant at the conclusion of Mass extol his many good qualities and dwell particularly on those which had so much endeared him to all with whom he came in contact, with his friends and relatives, with the people of the various missions in which he had served, and particularly with his fellow-priests, among whom he was a special favourite. His general disposition, his unwavering good humour and his childlike simplicity and guilelessness, never failed to bring sunshine into every circle in which he moved, and it could be truly said of him that he left the world without leaving any enemy behind him, and left it with hosts of friends to mourn his early demise. The deceased, his revered father, and his relatives had left the parish deeply indebted to them, for they were among the most generous benefactors of the beautiful church in which they were assembled. They not alone presented some of the fine statues which adorned it but gave very general support towards its erection.

Owens Family:

In the 1901 census Kate Owens, a widow, was a shopkeeper on the Ballymoe Road where Divilly’s ‘Welcome Inn’ now operates. Her sister, Mary Donovan, was a Sub Postmistress in the same building. By 1911 Kate Theresa was a Hotel Keeper. Her daughter, Mary Gertrude, married John Dockery. From 1958, John’s son, Richard, and his wife, Lilly, operated a shop on the premises and Richard acted as Postmaster until his retirement in 1984.

Garvey Family:

The Garvey family operated a business in Ballyhard. The four siblings whose first name initials are inscribed on the Ascension stained glass centre panel in St. Patrick’s Church are –   

  • Michael (ML.) [1860 – 1933] who lived in Mounkelly, prior to moving to Milford, Creggs.
  • Thomas (THOS.) [1863 – 1947] who resided in Clondoyle before taking up residence in Galway.
  • Patrick (P.) [1865 – 1934] who inherited the family business in Ballyhard from his father who was also called Patrick. Known locally as ‘Pat na gCapall’, he is listed in the 1911 Census as a farmer and shopkeeper. He is the grandfather of Seán Garvey, Ballyhard.
  • Martin (MT.) [1872 – 1935] who is described in the 1911 Census as a merchant in Glenamaddy Town. He conducted his business in the premises known as ‘Irish House’ on the south side of the Creggs Road where his grandson, Gearóid, currently operates Garvey’s Pharmacy.     

Kathleen Hurley:

Kathleen Hurley resided in Corloch House, Ballymoe. She was well versed in local lore, making a significant contribution to the Main Manuscript Collection of the National Folklore Commission in the 1940s. She was on very friendly terms with the Commission staff as evidenced by a letter she penned in response to a gift of books she received from Commission Archivist, Seán Ó Súilleabháin, in 1947. The presentation, content and detailed descriptions of her extensive contributions in the English language are impressive. They include accounts of the local customs and traditions associated with St. Bridget, St. Cronan, Christmas, St. Stephen’s Day, Halloween and May Day. Kathleen’s submissions forms part of the Main Manuscript Collection and may be viewed in the National Folklore Collection archive in UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4.

James Connolly:

James Connolly (Connelly) came from a farming family in Park West, a few miles south of Glenamaddy, and married into the family business located in one of the corner houses in The Square, Glenamaddy. His wife, Mary Keaveney, was the daughter of Malachy and Margaret (née Divilly) Keaveney, substantial land and property owners in the town. Apart from his own premises Malachy and his wife had built two properties for their two daughters, one for Margaret and another for her sister, Catherine, who married Patrick MacDermott. The MacDermotts lived next door and prior to his marriage, Patrick MacDermott who was a native of Ballinlough worked in Keaveny’s shop in The Square.

Harry Clarke:

Harry Clarke was born in Dublin on the 17th March 1889. He was greatly influenced by his father’s art work and by his mother, Brigid. At the age of 14, when his mother died, he left school and started apprenticing with his father. He attended night classed in stained-glass at the Metropolitan School of Art, Kildare Street. This gave him an intimate understanding of the nature of stained glass, and he soon learned to employ advanced techniques to create decorative effects. In 1911, he won the Gold Medal for stained glass at the Board of Education National Competition in South Kensington, London, and had a further two wins in 1912 and 1913. In 1914, he travelled to Paris and Chartres and studied medieval stained glass. He was greatly impressed by the 12th-century stained glass windows in Chartres cathedral.

He enhanced the qualities of coloured glass by acid-etching and the application of stains and fine delicate painting. Between 1915 and 1918 he was commissioned to create eleven windows of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and nine Irish Saints for the Honan Chapel in Cork. These magnificent windows were to establish his reputation as a skilled craftsman. Other important commissions followed for windows in churches throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom. With his own studios in 1930, Harry continued to obtain commissions and his name soon became synonymous with original stained glass work of the highest quality and craftsmanship. He was plagued with ill health for much of his life. A bicycle accident in 1926 left him with fractured ribs and a compression at the base of his skull. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1929. His condition was exacerbated by the use of chemicals and lead in his stained-glass work.  He travelled to Davos, in Switzerland, for treatment. On one such visit in 1931, while returning to Dublin, he died in Coire, Switzerland, on 6th January at the age of 41.  He was buried there but the exact location of his grave is unknown and there is no trace of the headstone erected by his wife, Margaret. Despite poor health throughout his short life, he managed to create some of the finest stained glass windows in the twentieth century.  All his commissioned pieces first went on display at his studio before being sent to the purchaser. Clarke believed that art was for everyone and that everyone should be able to view every piece and be inspired by it. The Clarke Stained Glass Studios in Dublin was responsible for hundreds of stained glass windows which continue to adorn churches all over Ireland, the UK, the US and elsewhere. After his death his wife, Margaret, ran the firm until she passed away in 1961. After that, his sisters, Dolly and Lally Clarke, ran the business producing designs which replicated the distinctive Harry Clarke style of figures with elongated faces and fingers and pointed feet. The firm closed in 1973.

Author: Pat Keaveny


  • St. Patrick’s Church, Glenamaddy – The First Hundred Years 1904-2004
  • Glenamaddy Boyounagh : Our People – Our Heritage. 2018
  • Roscommon Messenger. August 1915
  • Vincent O’Donoghue, Australia
  • Fragments of a Life, Kevin Rafferty, CM. 2009
  • Harry Clarke’s life. Averil Staunton.
  • National Archives – Census of Ireland 1901, 1911
  • Irish Folklore Collection, UCD
  • Tuam Herald. 2012
  • Stained Glass Window Photographs courtesy of Mary Donelan, Ballyhard