St Gobnait and the Currach

Corrib News Winter 2021

Kathleen Furey

Kathleen Furey

During the summer of 2021 I was asked to participate in a project celebrating the 21st anniversary of Áras Éanna, the arts centre on Inis Oírr, the smallest of the Aran Islands.
Twenty-one artists were each asked to create a piece of art, using a half-sized currach as their canvas. The currachs were made of metal and covered in primed canvas and the artists were free to respond in whatever way they wished.                                                                                          While researching artists who had visited Aran and Inis Oírr in particular, I learned that Harry Clarke had spent six summers on the island, honeymooned there with his wife, the artist Margaret Crilly, and that he felt a strong attachment to the landscape and people of Inis Oírr. He visited the island with Sean Keating whose painting ‘Thinking out Gobnet’ depicts Harry Clarke sitting among church ruins on the island. A theory is that he was inspired by the story of St Gobnait and her association with Inis Oírr, as around this time he submitted designs for a stained-glass window depicting St Gobnait for the Honan Chapel in Cork.
My work for the project takes Harry Clarke’s stained-glass image of St Gobnait and places it on the currach. The saint is the patron saint of beekeeping and the original image on the Cork window shows her surrounded by bees and warding off the plague which seems
relevant today. The currach also depicts marine images which were a favourite motif in Harry Clarke’s work.

The currach was exhibited in Inis Oírr church during the Curacha Exhibition and then in Galway Cathedral when the show moved to Galway. The currach will be on show in Oughterard Church from 16 November 2021.

This page was added on 24/01/2022.

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