Apart from the magnificence of the building itself, one of the most striking aspects of John's Lane is the beautiful stained-glass windows.
Walking into the church is like going into a forest glade with the light breaking through in lovely colours; so graceful are the pillars and the soaring Gothic arches; so magical the light from the windows. Let's take a tour of the windows walking from the front-door inwards... there are four different schools of stained-glass represented here.
Pride of place goes to the three windows from the Harry Clarke studio.
On the right-hand side going towards the altar the fourth window along is a Harry Clarke.
Next to it, just outside the Shrine to Our Lady of Good Counsel is a beautiful window by Michael Healy, a contemporary of Harry Clarkes.
It represents the major events in the life of St. Augustine; the rich colours of this window can really only be seen in full splendour on a sunny summers morning.
The five windows in the apse are the work of Mayers of Munich, noted for the detail in the faces.
Looking at them from left to right we see St. Patrick baptising Aengus, King of Munster.
Behind, we see the Rock of Cashel, seat of the Kings of Munster.
Next is St. Thomas of Villanova, a Spanish Augustinian famous for his love of the poor.
Beside him stand St. Augustine and St. John the Baptist, joint patrons of the church.
Then we have St. Nicholas of Tolentine, an Italian Augustinian famous for his devotion to the souls in Purgatory.
The last of the five windows depicts St. Monica receiving the cincture and passing it on to St. Augustine...
The three windows at the Sacred Heart altar are the work of Earley & Son and show us;-
Jesus appearing and revealing the secrets of his Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary.
Jesus saying "Come to me all you who labour and are burdened, and I will refresh you."
Jesus saying "Let the little children come unto me..."
Coming back down the church there are a further two Harry Clarke studio windows, the first one at the Shrine of St. Rita and another immediately following. Now, go and stand directly in front of the main altar and look down the church to THE GREAT WINDOW over the entrance.
Like the apse windows, it is the work of Mayers of Munich and is best seen as a complete unit. There are two rows of saints represented. In the upper row are Saints Catherine, William, Clare of Montefalco, Augustine and John the Baptist titulars of the church, Monica, Thomas of Villanova and Rita of Cascia. The lower row depicts Saints Gelasius, Limbonia, Lucy, Nicholas of Tolentine, Juliana, Patrick, Brigid and John the Apostle. The arch overhead is aflutter with angels' wings... We have to remember that in ancient times, stained glass windows were called "the poor man's Bible". People who could not read used sit in front of them and by looking, could absorb the whole Christian story.
Harrry Clarke was born 1889 son of Joshua Clarke, a craftsman. The youngster was exposed to art (and in particular Art Nouveau) at an early age. He went to school in Belvedere College in Dublin and by his late teens was studying stained glass at the Dublin Art School. Whilst there he won a Gold Medal for stained glass work in the 1910 Board of Education National Competition. Completing his education in his main field, Clarke travelled to London, where he sought employment as a book illustrator. Picked up by London publisher Harrap, he started with two commissions which were never completed: Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (his work on which was destroyed during the 1916 Easter Rising.) and an illustrated edition of Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock. Difficulties with these projects made Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen his first printed work. His reputation as a book illustrator was made by illustrations for an edition of Edgar Allen Poe's Tale of Mystery and Imagination. All the while he had been working away hard in stained glass, producing more than 130 windows, he and his brother, Walter, having taken over his father's studio after his death in 1921. Stained glass is central to Clarke's career. His glass is distinguished by the finesse of its drawing, unusual in the medium, his use of rich colours (inspired by an early visit to see the stained glass of the Cathedral of Chartres, he was especially fond of deep blues), and an innovative integration of the window leading as part of the overall design (his use of heavy lines in his black and white book illustrations is probably derived from his glass techniques). Harry Clarke's stained glass work includes many religious windows, but also much secular stained glass. Highlights of the former include the windows of the Honan Chapel in University College Cork, of the latter, a window illustrating John Keats' The Eve of St. Agnes (Now in the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery in Dublin) and the Geneva Window. Perhaps his most seen work were the windows of Bewley's Cafe on Dublin's Grafton Street. Unfortunately, ill health plagued both the Clarke brothers, and worn down by the pace of their work, and perhaps the toxin chemicals used in stained glass production, both died within a year of each other -- Walter first and then Harry in early 1931, of tuberculosis while trying to recuperate in Switzerland. He was only 41 years old. Clarke's work was influenced by both the passing Art Nouveau and the coming Art Deco movements.
Michael Healy was born on the 14th November 1873 at 40 Bishop Street, Dublin 8, very close to here. In March 1897 he enrolled at the Metropolitan School of Art where he studied until 1898 when he joined the RHA school. At this time he began to work as an illustrator for the Irish Rosary and whilst there became very friendly with the editor Fr. Glendon, OP. Father Glendon encouraged Healy to go to Florence to further his studies and accordingly Healy left for Florence in the Autumn of 1899. Healy stayed in Florence for 18 months working in the studio of de Bacci-Ventui ( a Florentine painter) and studying in the life school of the R. Instituto de Belle Arte. On his return to Ireland in May 1901 Healy took a job in the Dominican College at Newbridge as an art teacher. This was not a position that he held for long as he found the teaching of small boys very tiresome and frustrating. In 1903 Sarah Purser, Edward Martyn, T.P. Gill etc., founded the studio of An Tur Gloine (The Tower of Glass)whose purpose was to improve the quality of stained glass in Ireland. Michael Healy was the first recruit to this studio and by 1904 he produced his first complete window, The St. Simeon Window for Loughrea Cathedral. From this period onwards Healy's interest in painting decreased (although he did exhibit with the RHA from 1912 to 1914) and stained glass became his passion. He became so prolific in the art of stained glass that he is now regarded as one of Ireland's greatest artists in this medium. Between 1906 - 1911 Healy spent time in Enniskillen designing and producing windows for the Convent of Mercy on Belmore Street. It is not known exactly how he came to be commissioned in c. 1908 to paint The Nativity in St. Michael's, Enniskillen; but it is possible that this commission arose as a result of the time he had already spent working in Enniskillen. The Nativity appears to be unique in that it is the only known oil mural in a Church by Healy. You can see this painting if you just click this link...
Michael Healy died on Monday 22nd September 1941 near where he was born in Mercers Hospital after a short illness.
Believed to have been born to Irish parents in Bermingham, England, he lived in Charleville Road and had a family business (existing in 1941 but gone by 1956) in Camden Street which is very close to John's Lane. There was a connection to Pugin in the fact that at one time he was an apprentice at Hardman & Company under the direction of Pugin. His windows in John's Lane are to be seen at both the Shrines of Our Lady of Good Counsel and the Sacred Heart.
MAYERS OF MUNICH;
Franz Mayer and Company originally called Mayer'sche Kunstanstalt, was founded in 1848 by Joseph Gabriel Mayer. Originally they produced altars and shrines followed by the inclusion of stained-glass design work in 1856. You can see the outstanding stained-glass of this German company at both ends of John's Lane church. Interestingly these works owe their presence here to Harry Clarke's father Joshua, who was the Irish agent for Mayers. As you enter, the huge windows of the apse dominate the main altar area, then later on as you turn to leave, over the main entrance is the magnificent Great Window. Mayers windows are noted for the detail in the faces of the figures depicted and have their windows installed in more than 100 Cathedrals world-wide, including St. Peter's in Rome. For those who are familiar with Christian symbology, Mayers windows contain a rich array of ecclesiastical vocabulary. Frequently, saints are shown with their personal symbols. St.Peter, for instance, is shown with the keys to heaven. St. Luke is seen with an ox,as a reference his gospel which begins with a sacrifice... and so on. The complex and romantic iconography utilized by Mayer and Zettler was intended to enhance the spiritual experience of the viewer. Today, Mayer still produces stained glass windows and is headquartered in Munich with a sales office in Fairfield, New Jersey U.S.A. The company emphasizes the concept of "art in Architecture". Examples of their modern glass is found throughout the world. Mosaics and stained glass ceilings are installed at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals World Headquarters in New York City and a glass tent was designed and installed in Riyadh's Diplomatic Club in Saudi Arabia.