Harry Clarke's Stained Glass in Dingle

Harry Clarke Window - The Agony in the Garden

The Dingle Peninsula in Ireland's south west corner is a magical place. Everyone knows that. But apart from the well-known sites like Slea Head, Gallarus Oratory, the Blasket Island, bee hive huts, and Mount Brandon there are hidden jewels often undiscovered by the average traveler.

One such place is Chapel of the Sacred Heart located in the center of town in a Gothic style building next to St. Mary's Church. The building was formerly a convent for the Presentation Sisters. It is now part of the in the Díseart of Irish Spirituality and Culture, a place where students of Irish culture and spirituality can learn, grow, study and share.

The chapel is unique because it houses twelve lancet (or six two-glass) stained glass windows by the renowned Irish artist, Harry Clarke. In 1929, the Irish Statesman published an article by Irish Nationalist and mystical writer George Russell (aka AE).  In the article, Russell stated:

Harry Clarke is one of the strangest geniuses of his time ... He might have incarnated from the dark side of the moon.

So many churches in Ireland will claim one Harry Clarke window as an element to attract visitors. (And viewing one window IS worth a visit anywhere). But to have six sets all together in one spot is a feast for both eyes and spirit.

Harry Clarke Window - Gift of the Magi
The windows in the Chapel of the Sacred Heart depict six scenes from the life of Christ - Visit of the Magi, Baptism by John the Baptist, Suffer the Little Children, Sermon on the Mount, Agony in the Garden, and Christ's Appearance to Mary Magdalene.



Visitors can stop in the Visitor Centre's office at St. Mary's Chapel and ask for a guided tour. A young woman conducted a personal tour from me explaining that this was once a convent and the chapel was solely for the nuns. The sisters were the only beneficiaries of this magnificent art except for on rare occasions.

Harry Clarke Window - Let the Little Children Come to Me


A tour takes about and hour, and there are beautiful walled gardens as well as a hidden tunnel that can be explored with a guide. If you're in Dingle, ask about the Clarke windows. Anyone can direct you to St. Mary's Catholic Church. The former convent / An Diseart Visitor Centre is next door.

Calling ahead would be prudent to insure someone will be there to guide a tour.  For more complete information, contact the Díseart Institute of Irish Spirituality and Culture.

12 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:31 PM

    mindie-love this article. esp the quote about the darkside of the moon. now i really, really have to go here! kelly

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    1. Thanks, Kelly. I hope you can come with us someday. This chapel is a very special place and there's nothing quite like a Harry Clarke window - but to have two walls of them... amazing.

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  2. Lovely words and gorgeous photos, Mindie. I learn so much about Ireland from you!

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    1. Thanks, Melanie. I am a veritable wealth of trivial information. But this post had some valuable stuff in it. Who knew about these windows? The locals certainly. But Rick Steves in his Ireland Guide really opened the world up to the beauty in this chapel. It is a riveting experience to stand there, in the center, alone, surrounded by those windows. What a thin place.

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  3. They look very fine. I hope to get down to Dingle this summer, so I shall definitely be paying a visit to see these. Thanks

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    1. Do visit, Andrew. But call ahead first. Sometimes the door is locked. When you visit, please let us know what you thought. I'll be anxious to hear your commentary. Love your blog.

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  4. Was trying to remember this today when I was describing the place to a Presentation Sister here in Newfoundland, Canada......I was able to visit Dingle many years ago but could not take a tour......Beautiful place indeed.........Would love to visit again.......

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    1. I hope you can make it back, Karen. Dingle is always remarkable, but this chapel is amazing. Plus it's now got an entire heritage community able to give the visitor a deeper perspective.

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  5. Anonymous7:49 AM

    This film should be of interest...

    HARRY CLARKE - DARKNESS IN LIGHT
    http://www.camelproductions.net

    It begins with the Russell quote and tells the story of Harry Clarke's life and work including contributions from his biographer Nicola Gordon Bowe amongst others.

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  6. Hi Mindie, do you know if Catholic weddings are still held in this chapel? Thank you, Paula

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    1. Paula, I'm not sure what kind of services - if any - that they have in the chapel. I believe the entire building is leased by Díseart Institute of Irish Spirituality and Culture. . They would have that information. http://www.diseart.ie/index.html

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  7. Anonymous5:13 PM

    I have been there a couple times. Last year there were audio things to rent for just a couple euro I think. Maybe it was five. I got one and learned so much! It explains each window while you are looking at it. I would HIGHLY recommend paying the money and getting the recording.

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