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Dublin: 12°C Monday 25 October 2021

The 1930s: When a naked, glass woman could upset the government

This piece by artist Harry Clarke was prevented from being sent to Europe.

scandelous naken woman Source: Dublin City Council

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL has put on display a piece of stained glass artwork which outraged the Irish government more than 80 years ago.

The piece was originally commissioned as Ireland’s contribution to the League of Nations’ building in Geneva in the late 1920s. It was set to be used as panel no. 6 in the ‘Geneva Window’.

However, the Irish government of the day had different ideas, and intervened to prevent the piece being sent to Europe.

It was kept and later installed at Government Buildings in Merrion Square.


The piece was created by Harry Clarke and based upon a scene from ‘Mr Gilhooley’, a novel by Irish author Liam O’Flaherty – who had been banned by the government of the day.

The partially nude dancer seen in the glass is a reference to the character of Nelly from the book.

The work is set to go on display at The Hugh Lane gallery. Speaking about the work, director of the gallery, Barbara Dawson, said, “Harry Clarke was Ireland’s greatest stained glass artist.”

His marvellous imagination, his originality in depicting his subject matter and command of the stained glass technique makes him one of the greatest stained glass artists of all time.

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