On Thursday 21st July 2016, a large ‘1916 Commemorative Stained Glass Panel’ by artist Peadar Lamb was unveiled in Carlow County Museum. This lasting legacy of the Carlow Ireland 2016 commemorations was commissioned by Carlow County Council through its Public Art Working Group and coordinated through the Carlow Ireland 2016 Committee. This innovative and unique contemporary stained glass panel illustrates a Carlow narrative showing key Carlow figures and the role they played in 1916.
Cllr John Murphy, Cathaoirleach of Carlow County Council congratulated Peadar Lamb “on completing such a fantastic panel which not only gives us an overview of the Carlow perspective for 1916 but also looks to then future of this county and country.”
Cork City based artist Peadar Lamb magnificently crafted a large panel of 2.5 meters wide by 1.5 meters high and is an addition to the six 1930’s stained glass windows already in the Museum thanks to the buildings original residents, the Presentation Sisters. Following a recommendation from the Carlow Public Art Working Group a process of engagement with the Carlow Ireland 2016 Committee has been on-going, the Committee met with the artist Peadar Lamb at the inception of the commission to share ideas and opinions. Following this the artist researched the period with the assistance of Elaine Callinan of the History Department in Carlow College.
Peadar stated at the opening that “the content of this artwork is a microcosm of what was happening in the whole country during the period of 1916. As an artist, in the process of making this work I have to try to find, what I am going to say and how to represent this Carlow narrative. I don’t see historical dates I see things in pictures. I created a legacy piece that compositionally is not just about the past but also for the present and the future”.
Cllr Fintan Phelan, Mayor of the Municipal District of Carlow and Chairperson of the Carlow Ireland 2016 Committee in welcoming the commission said that “this beautiful stained glass panel will create a lasting legacy for generations to come. It is a piece that we can admire and reflect upon. We are not simply admiring stained glass, but rather we are reflecting on the most significant period in our Nations path to independence. A path travelled by many great men and women. Amongst them were some Carlovians, this piece is in honour of them and the values they stood for.”
The commission depicts some of the key Carlow figures from the 1916 Rising: Micheál O’Hanrahan who grew up on Tullow Street was executed for his role in 1916, and is representative of his family who were immersed in the republican tradition. Nurse Margaret Kehoe from Leighlinbridge who lost her life on Easter Monday 1916 while tending the wounded in the South Dublin Union. She is depicted cradling the wounded rebel Dan McCarthy who survived the Rising and they are almost like a mother/Madonna and child or ‘Pieta’. Father Albert Bibby OFM Cap, from Bagenalstown ministered too many of the rebel prisoners in Kilmainham Gaol and was a link between then and their families. Thomas Traynor, from Tullow, who fought in the 1916 Rising was executed in April 1921 during the War of Independence. He is depicted surrounded by his ten children.
The piece is rich in symbolism including an image of a large bullet and a bicycle. The bullet represents the power of the well-armed British Empire while the bicycle represents the ill-equipped Irish Revolutionaries, a David v Goliath situation. The panel is framed with a strong border open on the far right representing that history is always moving forward and also depicted by a blue print of the Carlow Sugar Factory from 1926.
The panel marks respectfully and captures the narrative of Carlow figures of 1916 as well as providing a legacy for future generations who will visit the County Museum in Carlow. The panel will be visually impactful on all visitors to the Museum and is now part of the Museum’s permanent collection.
Guest speaker on the night was Catherine Marshall, a leading figure in Art History in Ireland who summarised the importance of stained glass as an artform. She said “it is always really great to see a brand new artwork as the public see it for the first time. Historically as an art form stained glass was the medium used for commemorations. It is most fitting and the visionary work of Carlow County Council to commission contemporary stained glass artist Peadar Lamb. What strikes me in this artwork is the careful traditional leaded techniques and methods Peadar has applied, all done by hand, like the great cathedral windows across Europe. Like the great stained glass artists like Harry Clark, Peadar Lamb is an exceptional artist and has produced a beautiful artwork for Carlow”.
Peadar Lamb is an artist working primarily in the medium of stained glass for over twenty years. Using hand-made glass, he employs a variety of techniques which have changed little over the centuries. He has shown extensively in his native Ireland and internationally, and his work is in public and private collections in Europe, the Middle East, the USA and Japan. Behind the scenes footage of Peadar creating the Carlow piece can be seen in the below video. A full length video is on show in Carlow County Museum.
The project was managed through the Arts Office of Carlow County Council in partnership with County Carlow Museum under the direction of the Head of Finance, Information Systems and Culture, working with the Carlow Ireland 2016 Committee and members of Carlow County Council. The project is part of the Carlow Ireland 2016 Programme funded by Carlow County Council with assistance from the Ireland 2016 Office, The Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht, The Department of the Environment Community and Local Government.
The Stained Glass piece was shortlisted for the 2016 Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Awards.