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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