Tipperary artist Claire Mulholland: stained glass window of St Elizabeth of Hungary, St Peter’s Church, Partick, Glasgow

I came across this striking window in St Peter’s Church, Hyndland Street, Glasgow:

Here is a reflection by the artist:

And another angle of the Saint:

And what do you know, Claire Mulholland, who sadly died in 2013 was a Tipperary woman. And a school classmate of Mary Robinson. And a Scotswoman of the year. And … well, lots more. Some highlights from an admiring obituary from the Glasgow Herald:

Born to a dentist father and solicitor mother in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, in the south of Ireland, she graduated from University College Dublin (UCD) with an honours degree in French and Spanish at the age of 19. She was recruited by a professor of Spanish to one of the first teams of linguists to criss-cross France and Spain researching the soldiers and families of the Wild Geese – Irish regiments in the service of European monarchs from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Her work took her to places such as a fairytale castle in Segovia, where the 20-year-old had to run the gauntlet of 3000 young soldiers on the esplanade as she went to delve into the archives each morning.
She was tall and striking. At boarding school in Mount Anville, the Sacred Heart Convent, a fellow pupil was Mary Robinson, the future Irish president. Mulholland was chosen, because of her height, to lead all processions, which was an ordeal for a shy girl. She was also appointed head girl. The friends she made at Mount Anville remained close for the next 60 years.

Children started to come along, the first of whom, Ciara, was sadly diagnosed with leukaemia in 1969, a few months before her third birthday. This was essentially a death sentence: 5% of children with the disease survived for five years. Ciara lived for 24 gruelling months. Mulholland, with her husband and some friends, set up the Glasgow and West of Scotland branch of the Leukaemia Research Fund (now Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research).

Claire wrote a book of poems, I’ll Dance with the Rainbows, to help come to terms with the loss of her child. The book has proved a boon to many other parents faced with similar loss, and several of the poems have been included in textbooks teaching doctors how to deal with relatives coping with bereavement.

She was named Scotswoman of the Year for her achievements in the Leukaemia Research Fund in 1979. Not bad for an Irishwoman, as she was wont to add.

A lifelong passion was birds. She could recognise every British and Irish bird by sight, song, flight pattern or stray feather and until a few weeks before her death was sending in returns for the RSPB Garden Birdwatch.

Almost 20 years ago she asked herself the question: “If I were to die today, what would I regret not having done?” Her answer was: “Not having made stained glass.” She did a short course in Edinburgh to learn the mechanics of cutting and putting together pieces. She already knew the design and artistic side, with many exhibitions in oils and watercolours behind her. She took to glass work like a duck to water.

Wow (though can I confess mild scepticism of that degree of ornithological diagnostics in anyone?) And there’s lots more where that came from.

Some details of this window:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s