Students’ talents shine with stained glass paintings

Eamonn Wynne

Eamonn Wynne

New works of art that adorn the prayer/meditation room and an office at Clonmel High School have earned the praise of staff, students and visitors alike.

Beautiful paintings that offer the impression of stained glass windows are the result of almost a year of painstaking effort and no little artistic talent by 11 students who worked under the direction of local artists Maureen Purcell and Aine Hennessy.

The idea was mooted by Maureen and religion teacher Annette Hickey and the project started when the Leaving Cert students were in Fifth Year.

Panes of glass were fitted to each window in both rooms and after test pieces were completed the painting started. The students painted 10 windows while Maureen and Aine did five.

“The boys were fantastic, they even came in during lunchtime to work on the windows”, says Maureen.

Many of the paintings are based on Scripture and parables from the Bible and feature the Twelve Apostles, Tongues of Fire, fish and a dove of peace. Others feature a Celtic Cross from the Book of Kells, to represent Christianity and St. Patrick in Ireland; snakes and a guardian angel at the Tomb of Christ.

Others depict hands reaching to the sun, moon and stars, encouraging the students to reach their potential; a phoenix rising from the ashes, which has the underlying message that no matter how bad things seem there’s always a way out; a candle with barbed wire, which is similar to the Amnesty International logo; the Children of Lir, and a man breaking free from chains.

Other themes touched on include the Resurrection, the Last Supper and Pentecost.

“It was a tough job but very worthwhile. It was a real labour of love”, says Maureen Purcell. She says that the windows are striking and vibrant, especially when you walk into each room without turning on the lights.

“The windows are just phenomenal. They’re works of art that will be as here as long as the school. These wonderful pieces of art showcase the talent of the students who worked very closely with Maureen Purcell”, says school principal Shay Bannon.

The paintings set the tone for students when they go to meditate and pray in the room, he added.

“The lads were real troopers and some of them even worked on the windows during the summer holidays”, says religion teacher Annette Hickey.

She said it was decided to tap into the talents of the students instead of hiring professional painters to decorate the room.