But the doors of many of the monasteries and castles we visited also peaked my interest--or perhaps I should more properly call them doorways.
A window from Cong Abbey, rebuilt in the thirteenth century.
And then there was a whole different window experience. Joe McDermott, our Irish guide, took us to St. Mary's Church in Ballinrobe, County Mayo, and promised us that, even though this was not exactly "Ancient Ireland," we would not want to miss seeing some stained glass windows done in the 1920s by the famous Irish artist Harry Clarke. Now, even though as a quilter I did have fun playing with the stained glass technique several years ago, I do not usually go out of my way to see stained glass windows.
As we entered the church I looked up at the windows behind the altar and said to myself, --Yeah, they are nice windows, but not worth making us a little late for dinner-- as this side trip was doing. Then I turned to the side wall and I got that tingle that tells me this is connecting with something deep. The windows on both side walls, which Clarke had designed, glowed with some of the most saturated colors I have ever seen. It was like a Van Gogh painting lit from within. And Clarke adds many lines within each leaded piece so that the window has much more texture than the usual stained glass.
A camera cannot capture the colors, unfortunately. You had to be standing in front of those windows to get the full experience--and it's nice to know there are a few things that virtual reality can't accomplish. It's like the difference between seeing a photo of a quilt and having it in front of you.
Clarke is also known for the individuality of his faces--something that got him into trouble with some of his religious patrons who felt that some of his religious windows were not "spiritual" enough. Here is an example of his humor:
If you can't get a clear view of the child with glasses reading a book, while a saint tries to preach the gospel to those crowded around, click on the picture to enlarge it.
I am still processing images from this trip, as some of them fade a bit and others settle into my psyche. More later, and if you are still with me this time, thanks for the company.