An Túr Gloine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Memorial window from St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin executed by An Túr Gloine.

An Túr Gloine (pronounced [ənˠ ˌt̪ˠuːɾˠ ˈɡlˠɪnʲə]; Irish for "The Glass Tower") was a cooperative studio for stained glass and opus sectile artists from 1903 until 1944,[1] based in Dublin, Ireland.


An Túr Gloine was conceived of in late 1901 and established January 1903 at 24 Pembroke Street, Dublin, Ireland, on the site of two former tennis courts. It was active throughout the first half of the 20th century. Affiliated artists included Michael Healy, Evie Hone, Beatrice Elvery, Wilhelmina Geddes, Catherine O'Brien, Kathleen Quigly, and founder Sarah Purser.[1] The original impetus for the project, spurred by the Irish cultural activist Edward Martyn, was the building of the Roman Catholic cathedral in Loughrea, County Galway, which was to become St. Brendan's.[2] Purser and Martyn hoped to provide an alternative to the commercial stained glass imported from England and Germany for Irish churches and other architectural projects.[3] Purser's knowledge of French and English medieval glass, together with her social connections and organizational skills, were crucial to the success of the cooperative.[1]

A writer for The Studio, a magazine of fine and applied art, called the recently formed An Túr Gloine "perhaps the most noteworthy example of the newly awakened desire to foster Irish genius," describing it as "at once a craft school, where instruction in every detail connected with the designing and production of stained glass is given to the workers, and a factory from which some beautiful work has already appeared." The writer also extolled the economic benefits of an Irish glass industry to supply churches.[4] The studio is regarded as part of the Arts and Crafts Movement,[5] but was infused also with the contemporary spirit of Irish revivalism[6] and drew on the artistic tradition of Celtic manuscript illumination. Ireland became an internationally renowned center of stained-glass art at this time, to a large extent as a result of An Túr Gloine.[7] The studio was run by Purser until 1940, and she was succeeded by Catherine O'Brien who ran it until 1944.[1] After which time O'Brien bought the studio and leased a large section of it to Patrick Pollen.[8]

Relation to literary culture[edit]

A commission for An Túr Gloine occasioned an outburst of criticism in Samhain magazine from the Irish poet W.B. Yeats on how the "bourgeois mind is never sincere in the arts":

Galway convent a little time ago refused a fine design for stained glass, sent from Miss Sarah Purser's studio, because of the personal life in the faces and in the attitudes, which seemed to them ugly, perhaps even impious. They sent to Miss Purser an insipid German chromo-lithograph, full of faces without expression or dignity, and gestures without personal distinction, and Miss Purser, doubtless because her enterprise was too new, too anxious for success, to reject any order, has carried out this ignoble design in glass of beautiful colour and quality.[9]


The following table provides examples of work commissioned from the studio or created by individual artists associated with An Túr Gloine.

Subject Site Location Artist
World War I memorial window St. Bartholomew's Church Ottawa, Canada Wilhemina Geddes[5]
Windows Abbey Theatre Dublin An Túr Gloine[10]
Door panel depicting a triad of candles symbolizing truth, knowledge, and wisdom St. Enda's School, Cullenswood House Ranelagh, Dublin Sarah Purser and An Túr Gloine[11]
St. Fanchea and St. Enda window St. Brigid, Faughart Parish Church Kilcurry, Ireland Sarah Purser and An Túr Gloine[12]
Katharine Temple Emmet & Richard Stockton Emmet Memorial Window Christ Church Pelham Manor, New York, America Sarah Purser
Windows, three on the south side, one on the north aisle St. Ann's Church, Dawson Street Dublin Wilhemina Geddes; north aisle with Ethel Rhind[13]


  1. ^ a b c d Gordon Bowe, Nicola. "The Tower of Glass An Túr Gloine and the early 20th century stained glass revival in Ireland". Building Conservation. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  2. ^ Martin Wallace, 100 Irish Lives (Rowman & Littlefield, 1983), p. 122 online.
  3. ^ Entry on stained glass, The Blackwell Companion to Modern Irish Culture, edited by W.J. McCormack (Wiley-Blackwell, 2001), p. 542 online.
  4. ^ E.D. (initials only), The Studio 33 (15 October 1904), pp. 260 and 262 online.
  5. ^ a b Ellen Mary Easton McLeod, In Good Hands: The Women of the Canadian Handicrafts Guild (McGill-Queen's Press, 1999), pp. 55 and 68 (note 24) online.
  6. ^ Characterized, perhaps dismissively, as "romantic nationalist fervour" in The Blackwell Companion to Modern Irish Culture, p. 542.
  7. ^ Terence Brown, Ireland: A Social and Cultural History, 1922 to the Present (Cornell University Press, 1985), p. 78 online; The Blackwell Companion to Modern Irish Culture, p. 542.
  8. ^ Doyle, Carmel (2009). "O'Brien, Catherine Amelia". In McGuire, James; Quinn, James (eds.). Dictionary of Irish Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  9. ^ The Collected Letters of W.B. Yeats, edited by John Kelly and Ronald Schuchard (Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 259, note 2 online.
  10. ^ The Collected Letters of W.B. Yeats, p. 973, note 4.
  11. ^ Elaine Sisson, Pearse's Patriots: St Enda's and the Cult of Boyhood (Cork University Press, 2004), p. 210, note 20 online.
  12. ^ Christine Casey and Alistair John Rowan, North Leinster: The Counties of Longford, Louth, Meath and Westmeath, The Buildings of Ireland series (Yale University Press, 1993), p. 348 online.
  13. ^ St. Ann's Church, Dawson Street, visitors pamphlet.


  • Teehan, Virginia; Heckett, Elizabeth (2005). The Honan Chapel: A Golden Vision. Cork: Cork University Press. ISBN 978-1-8591-8346-5.