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Exhibit A: Mr Gilhooley

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An original stained glass artwork by Harry Clarke, which outraged the Irish government in 1930

An original stained glass artwork by Harry Clarke, which outraged the Irish government in 1930

An original stained glass artwork by Harry Clarke, which outraged the Irish government in 1930

"She came towards him dancing, moving the folds of the veil so that they unfolded slowly as she danced": Mr Gilhooley by Liam O'Flaherty.

These are the words inscribed at the feet of this scantily shrouded dancing lady. And the stained glass artist Harry Clarke selected this most risqué passage from Liam O'Flaherty's provocative novel, Mr Gilhooley.

This artwork featured in Harry Clarke's eight-panelled work Geneva Window. It was commissioned in 1927 by the Irish government for the League of Nations building in Geneva and Clarke decided to compose it of scenes from novels by 15 contemporary Irish writers such as GB Shaw, James Joyce, JM Synge and Sean O'Casey. Clarke selected the scenes with the help of WB Yeats, who also featured. They were catholic in their approach, selecting some writers who were banned, some who were even Protestants. Clarke made this panel that same year and submitted the full proposal. It was accepted and he started work. However, he received a letter from President Cosgrave telling him that the O'Flaherty panel, depicting Mr Gilhooley, would need to be replaced, Nelly's partial nudity was too much for our sensitive government.

Clarke submitted alternatives but he never received any response. In October of that year, Clarke's health forced him to leave Dublin with his friend, Lennox Robinson, to go to Davos in Switzerland for treatment.

He continued to inquire about the fate of the window, right up until his death on January 6, 1931, but he never received any decision. Wonderfully, this panel has now been returned to Ireland and is on display in Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, hughlane.ie.

Indo Review