Eva’s Birthday Celebration 2018

Have a look at the photos from Eva’s birthday celebrations earlier this year! Thanks to Soizick Lesaux for the photographs and also for telling us about Eva’s big birthday. Soizick is a long-term member of our Association who has returned to live in Brittany but keeps in regular contact with us. We would also like to thank Eva’s students in Boulogne Billancourt, Paris for including us in this celebration.

Eva sent greetings to all of us earlier this year:

“Thanks to all in the Association for your participation with my gift, that I am now using to write this email! Eva”

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Mullaghmore Tutor’s Course

I have just returned from a very enjoyable weekend course in the beautiful setting of Mullaghmore in County Sligo, a place that I have often driven past but never took the turn off to this quiet village on the west coastline of Ireland.

I recently heard about a course for beginner tutors of iconography and decided to go and touch base with the basics of iconography. The course was initiated for those in the Association of Iconographers Ireland who were thinking about becoming tutors and those who had recently taken the daunting step. I took the opportunity to apply for the course as I felt that it would be good for me to revise the basics of this type of religious art. I am grateful that I was offered a place and even though my stay was short, I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend.

It was good to watch someone with Dick’s tremendous experience, reinforcing what I had been taught, reminding me of points that I had forgotten, and hearing some things for the first time. I was very thankful for the amount of information that Dick willingly imparted to us all. I was very impressed with his very gentle brush technique and with his constant examination of his work against the model as he progressed. No report can ever do him justice as he did much more than what I noted down, including the prayer associated with his painting, the little pearls of wisdom that we can take home with us and the diagrams that he patiently drew to help explain his points. I am sure that at the end he was very tired. I was sorry that I was going to miss the session on Sunday morning; however, I did go home enthused looking forward to passing on the mass of information that I had gathered over my short stay.

I thank God for the work of the association tutors, that of the committee for organising courses, and for the hospitality of the Sisters in the Star of the Sea Convent in the hugely impressive scenic setting of Mullaghmore in County Sligo.

Philip Brennan

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Icon delivered to Mary O’Farrell

Today, Philip Brennan brought the icon of St Peter and St Paul to Dublin and gave it to Mary O’ Farrell. Fearghal O’Farrell, RIP, a founding member of our Association had begun this icon shortly before he died and Philip very kindly offered to finish it.

The prototype of this icon of St Peter and St Paul is in St Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai, 14th century. Mary, Fearghal’s widow, was delighted to receive the icon so beautifully finished by Philip. We had a lovely afternoon chatting with Mary and looking at all the beautiful icons, paintings and drawings left by Fearghal.

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Icons in Culmullen NS, Co. Meath & St Mary’s HFC Secondary School Dublin 11

Following on from the last post, May 18th, 2018, Confirmation Icons, Draperstown, have a look at the photographs below from Culmullen NS where each year the children prepare icons for their Confirmation. This year Paula McHugh and myself were also asked to work with Transition Year pupils from St Mary’s in Glasnevin, D11. 


 It was a wonderful experience working with both groups of pupils, hard work but we were all delighted with the results.

The children transfer the simple drawings of their chosen saint onto wooden gessoed boards and paint their icons using gouache paint. The children use artificial gold leaf (they love the gilding process) and used along with masking fluid, the gilding works out very well. We don’t give the children coloured images of the icons. Instead we give them a whole series of patterns taken from Ethiopian icons and allow them to choose whatever design they like, so they use pattern rather than form to define their icons. We are always surprised and delighted at how well they all turn out!

It is tiring work but rewarding when you hear the children talk and discuss and ask questions about their saint and the meanings of the symbols. I am sure their work with these icons will only help to deepen their faith.


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Confirmation Icons, Draperstown, 2018

The iconography exhibition and blessing that took place in St. Mary’s P.S. Draperstown on 25th April, 2018 was the culmination of a year of hard work by the P.7 class in preparation for their Confirmation. It was a truly unique project and a joyful celebration of faith and discovery. The seeds of the project germinated nearly four years ago when iconographer, Richard Sinclair encouraged the Principal of St. Mary’s Corinne Coyle to talk to fellow iconographer, Colette Clarke about the work she was doing with Confirmation classes in Co Meath.

The project was only possible this year due to the huge support of iconographers from the Association of Iconographers Ireland. Clare McReynolds, Grainne and Patrick McMacken gave a massive commitment of time and energy during the year and the children benefited greatly from their knowledge, expertise and generosity of spirit.

Fr. Seamus O Connell joined the celebrations and blessed the icons.

This was the largest exhibition of children’s iconography ever to be held in Ireland, a wonderful accolade for the Parish of Ballinascreen. Each child from the P.7 class displayed an icon of their Confirmation saint. A number of icons from the Association of Iconographers Ireland were also on display.

Read below some of the children’s comments:

  • “I learned how to take my time with things and not take shortcuts if it’s important.”
  • “I learned that everything in iconography could be fixed. The mistakes helped me to learn. It’s good to have people who can help you fix mistakes.”
  • “I learned that an icon is more than a painting. It is a very special image. During the year, I have built a relationship with St. Maria Goretti. I know about her and she has got to know me.”
  • “I have learned from my mistakes. I have learned that sometimes it is good to take advice from others. We have been lucky to learn from Patrick, Clare and Grainne.”
  • “I have learned how to create a beautiful icon. I loved working with Clare, Grainne, Patrick, Mrs Barton and Ms Coyle. They are brilliant artists.”
  • “I have enjoyed painting and getting to know St. Vincent de Paul during the year. I now have someone special to pray to and talk to when I need help.”
  • “Sometimes I rush my work. I learned how important it is to slow down. Everything turns out better if you take your time.”
  • “I have learned not to look at other icons and think that they are better than mine. They are all different and each one is unique and special.”
  • “I have learned that I have patience. You need lots of patience to work on an icon.”
  • “It is ok to ask for help. Sometimes it is important to do that. Mistakes are sorted out much easier with help.”

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Center for Action and Contemplation

Have a look at the daily meditations from the Center for Action and Contemplation. This week Fr Richard Rohr is speaking on Art. click here

Thanks to Grainne McMacken who saw this and thought our members might be interested? I enjoy reading these daily meditations  and find them thought provoking.

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St Mary’s Abbey, Glencairn, Co Waterford

I have just returned from a short stay in  St Mary’s Abbey, Glencairn, Co Waterford. Glencairn is the only Cistercian monastery for women in Ireland and it is well known to members of our Association as this is where Sr Paula Kiersey, RIP, a founding member of our Association lived for most of her years.

I was asked down to have a look at the beautiful icon of Sr Paula’s, Our Lady of Tenderness, written in 1989 which has suffered some damage.  This icon is much loved by the community as every evening after Compline, the lights are dimmed and the icon is lit up for the singing of the Salve Regina. Hopefully it will soon be restored to it’s former beauty.

St Mary’s Abbey is a beautiful place to stay, an oasis of peace and I look forward to returning there in the near future. Columba Press has just published a new book, Glencairn Abbey – A Year in the Life, which is a fund raiser for St Mary’s building project.

The book presents the Abbey’s journey through the year. It is filled with beautiful photographs taken by Valerie O’Sullivan. There are comments, reflections and I particularly liked the testimonies from the sisters.

Glencairn book cover

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