Re: Re: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches

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This appeared on the Catholic Ireland webpage:

St Mel’s windows records will allow for perfect restoration
Wednesday, January 20th, 2010 Restorers of stained glass windows destroyed in the inferno before Christmas at St. Mel’s Cathedral in Longford have said they will be able to do a perfect restoration because of records kept when the windows were repaired thirteen years ago.

At a time of great sadness in Longford for what has befallen the cathedral, this news comes as a light in the darkness.

The eighty-year-old windows, some of which were made in the studio of the renowned artist Harry Clarke, (an example of his work is pictured left) were badly damaged when fire gutted the building. Mr Ken Ryan of Abbey Stained Glass Studios said last week that in 1997, his firm had been engaged to take out the windows, restore and re-fit them.

In that process, they made full tracings of each of the windows, including the extremely valuable Harry Clarke Studio windows, which suffered the least damage in the fire. Mr Ryan explained that when his firm takes windows to its workshop studios they lay paper over the stained glass, and rub a black crayon over it to take the imprint.

“We have a full layout of all the lead sections, which hold the pieces of glass together,” he said.

Normally, these are dumped after about ten years, but “by a stroke of good luck,” the rubbings from St. Mel’s are intact, he added. “There are tens of thousands of pieces of glass in these windows (in the cathedral) and we can identify the shape of each piece of glass from the rubbings.”

Mr Ryan said that, as a back-up, his company has photographs of all the stained glass windows and having surveyed St Mel’s, some of the windows were salvaged, including the two Harry Clarke Studio ones. One of the Clarke windows fell but was caught in the window area and was rescued, he explained.

“Our men are going around at the moment underneath each of these windows to try and find loose pieces of glass that can be used in their reconstruction,” Mr Ryan said

“In any event, if a window has been completely destroyed, because we have the rubbings and the photographs, it’s possible to reconstruct all of the windows as they were before”.

by Fintan Deere

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