From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Frank Cawley
Harry Clarke Sequel - Newport Judgement Day
By Frank Cawley
8, Aug 2011 - 12:45

I discovered Harry Clarke by accident, whilst sheltering from the Irish summer in Ballinrobe a few years ago.

Since then I've been to several churches and museums.

He was a true genius and thank God there was some people willing to give him a free hand. Must have been very difficult in those days, free expression must have been seen as the devil's work.


Apparently this is a self portrait

According to A Wallace, Wallace, A, A Poet of Light, in The Irish Times, January 14th 1989:
This image is a self portrait of Clarke himself. He must have felt he was a lost soul damned to hell. He is suspended in animation upside down, in the 3rd window (light) on the right hand side. If you want to see a real life version of an upside down green devil, then I suggest you take a stroll through down town Castlebar at about 1am on a Sunday morning, you will see lots of them.


Not sure if this is a Harry Clarke work

This may not be a Harry Clarke window its near the back of the church. Harry would have designed the three main windows in Newport but its not clear if he ever actually worked on them himself. He was commissioned by canon Michael McDonald to do a triple window entitled "the last judgement" in 1926. The work didn't begin until 1930 and Harry was a sick man at this stage, he was only 41 but he had TB and was living in Davos Switzerland. Of course Davos Switzerland is presently famous for entirely different reasons. The world's rich head there for a crannú every spring. They will have a lot to talk about next spring 2012. Incidentally Castlebar's version of the Davos summit takes place weekly in Prendergasts tavern on Castle street. Where the public service wage bill, gets a regular lambasting. I've yet to see anyone implementing an action plan as a result of the Prendergast summits.


Saw this fella at a town hall disco in the 80's in a megadeath teeshirt

This is Harry's depiction of one of the damned. I can remember meeting a similar lost soul in real life in the town hall circa 1990. The local town padres had organised a town hall meeting, to discus what policies could be out in place, to discourage underage drinking. There was a selection of French students on vacation in Castlebar at the time, and their input was invaluable. There was a lot of mature and lively debate. It was followed by a teenage disco, where the young people of Castlebar could have a first hand experience of how to socialise and enjoy themselves without being under the influence of alcohol. That was the plan any way. It went very badly wrong. The hall was only half full for the meeting because the other half were up the lake gusseling flagons of cider and naggins of vodka. They arrived en mass at 10 minutes past 10 the witching hour for the start of the first heavy metal set. When the padre in charge of the door refused them entry that's when the gates of hell were opened. Harry Clarke's depiction of hell in Newport was genuinely fairly tale stuff, compared to the bedlam that night. The disco started at 10pm, and it was over at 10.25pm. You could have filled a bath with the French tears, and its the first and only time I witnessed a member of the faith getting a hammering from a young fella, rather than the other way around.

All Saints

This looks to me like three wise men and a lady, a very unusual sight in Ireland today.


Unworthy souls damned to hell

Snakes, devils, lost souls, If Harry was around today all he would need to do is look at the executive management team of any of our banks or trade unions.

Some saints having some kippage

A selection of saints having a nap. It amazes me how well groomed the lads were 2011 years ago. There was no such thing as Gillette fusion, total shaving solution, warm taps, or beard trimmers, but every one looked like a rock star.

Medieval ribbon gymnastics

This window is at the back of the church, I think it must have been designed by Clarke's studios. Maybe it was installed after the main windows. If it was then Harry was dead at that stage. Regardless it's one of my favourites. It looks like an arch angel is using a magic ribbon to either electrocute or fiercely frighten a sinner. At the same time there are three divine ladies in the top left corner, looking on with pure admiration. Again I step back to the town hall disco to reflect on a modern day example of the same biblical scenario. Town hall hero helps evict sizzled teen wolf type character from disco, ladies like town hero.

The saved.

All of these people are judged to be saved. Not one of them have a beard or glasses. Rolf Harris take note.

Jesus says his last prayers before hes betrayed.

This is not one of the main windows, it looks like Jesus saying his last few prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane. The men with the torches are on their way. Modern day example I look to the American Tea Party heads and their contempt for their president.

Jesus on judgement day.

This is the central light, it depicts Jesus on judgement day. The souls of the dead and departed are being called for assessment. Will they fly or will they fry? Thats a lot of judging to do there must have been 30 billion people who have perished since the resurrection. I suppose some people believe that the souls of certain faiths, and lost souls with no faith, would not even get the call for judgement. My belief is keep in with them all, you'd be kicking yourself if you arrived up at the pearly gates, and you find all the bouncers are Hari Krishnas.


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