The Dingle Peninsula in Ireland’s south west corner is a magical place. Everyone knows that. But apart from the well-known sites like Slea Head, Gallarus Oratory, the Blasket Island, bee hive huts, and Mount Brandon there are hidden jewels often undiscovered by the average traveler. One such place is Chapel of the Sacred Heart located in the center of town in a Gothic style building next to St. Mary’s Church. The building was formerly a convent for the Presentation Sisters. It is now part of the in the An Diseart Visitor Centre, a place where students of Irish culture and spirituality can learn, grow, study and share.
The chapel is unique because it houses twelve lancet stained glass windows by the renowned Irish artist, Harry Clarke. So many churches in Ireland will claim one Harry Clarke window as an element to attract visitors. (And viewing one window IS worth a visit anywhere). But to have twelve all together in one spot is enough to take one’s breath away. They depict six scenes from the life of Christ – Visit of the Magi, Baptism by John the Baptist, Suffer the Little Children, Sermon on the Mount, Agony in the Garden, and Christ’s Appearance to Mary Magdalene.
In 1929, mystical writer George Russell (aka AE) wrote, “Harry Clarke is one of the strangest geniuses of his time … He might have incarnated from the dark side of the moon.” ~The Irish Statesman
Visitors can stop in the Visitor Centre’s office at The Diseart Centre and ask for a guided tour. A young woman conducted a personal tour from me explaining that this was once a convent and the chapel was solely for the nuns. They were the only beneficiaries of this magnificent art except for on rare occasions. A tour takes about and hour and there are beautiful walled gardens as well as a hidden tunnel that can be explored with a guide. If you’re in Dingle, ask about the Clarke windows. Anyone can direct you to St. Mary’s Catholic Church. The former convent / An Diseart Visitor Centre is next door. Calling ahead would be prudent to insure someone will be there to guide a tour.