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2016 Press Releases

Forgotten Faces of Art: The women of the Honan Chapel

24 May 2016
Virginia Teehan, Director of Cultural Projects at UCC: The Honan Chapel is one of the finest examples of 20th century Irish design.

The stories of the extraordinary Irish women behind the design of the Honan Chapel textiles and their contribution to Ireland’s Arts and Crafts Movement have been largely ignored, according to Virginia Teehan, Director of Cultural Projects at UCC.

In a public lecture tomorrow evening (May 25) titled The Centenary of the Honan Chapel: Jewel in the Crown of the Irish Arts and Crafts Movement, Teehan will discuss new research that has discovered the fantastic design world of three unsung artists Evelyn Gleeson, Katherine McCormack and Ethel Scally.

“Like many of their generation, the stories of the women who created these wonderful artworks were often swept aside and their contributions to artists’ practice was sometimes completely ignored, or at best diminished,” Teehan said.

“New research has revealed that the designers, artists and seamstresses who worked on the Honan Chapel commission were experts in research, design and practice.”

Many of these women worked in studios like the Dun Emer Guild, the first collective for female artists, founded by Evelyn Gleeson and the Yeats sisters Lilly and Lolly in Dundrum, Co. Dublin in 1902, its aim being ‘to find work for Irish hands in the making of beautiful things'.

The Dun Emer Guild made many of the large textiles commissioned for the Honan Chapel, while in Cork city, the firm Michael Barry Egan on Patrick Street made a number of the Honan vestments.

“The women’s pride in their work is evident from the fact that they embroidered their names on the artworks. These inscriptions are a fragile testimony to the creativity and skill of the artists.”

Conceived at the height of the Irish Revival and consecrated in 1916, the Honan Chapel is one of the finest examples of 20th century Irish design.

A number of items from the Honan Chapel Collection of artworks are currently on display at The Arts and Crafts Movement: Making it Irish, a major US exhibition at the McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College. The exhibition is a collaboration between the museum and UCC, marking the decade of centenaries.

Free and open to the public, Teehan’s lecture is part of UCC’s Revisiting the Rising series and will take place tomorrow (May 25) at 6pm in UCC’s Geology and Geography Building (beside the Honan Chapel).

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF