Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council marked the Decade of Centenaries Programme in 2019 with a celebration of The Oratory of the Sacred Heart, built on the grounds of St. Mary's Dominican Convent in 1919. The Oratory was hand-painted by Sister Concepta Lynch over a period of 16 years from 1920-1936 and the result is a stunning example of the Celtic Revival style. The celebrations in 2019 included a large exhibition at dlr LexIcon, a new book entitled Divine Illumination published by New Island Books, a redesigned exhibition at the Oratory on Library Road and an extensive series of workshops, talks and seminars. In addition to the many events held in 2019, one very important project began towards the end of that year and has now been completed in October 2020. This project was the creation of a mural in the grounds of the Oratory by pupils from Dominican Primary School, Dún Laoghaire.
The project coordinator was Mags Harnett, an Irish artist from the guide/artist panel at the National Gallery of Ireland where Sr Concepta’s Archive is held. Mags has found inspiration for her own work in the art of the Book of Kells and the brilliance and colour of Sr Concepta's Oratory. She devised a series of workshops for pupils in 5th class at Dominican Primary School, Dún Laoghaire. The students attended a workshop in dlr LexIcon where they practised Sister Concepta's Lynch Method before visiting the Oratory on Library Road where they also measured the mural wall in advance of working on their design. They attended two further workshops in their own school with Mags but the project stalled in March 2020 due to the nationwide Lockdown. It was not until the students returned to school in September, now in 6th class, that they were able to visit the Oratory grounds to put their plans into action. Their first trip was on 21 September and they put the final touches to their splendid mural on 7 October 2020. The students were delighted to see Sr Frances Lally and Sr Margaret Mary Ryder from the Dominican Convent and artist Veronica Heywood that day, all of whom played a major role in championing the art and legacy of the Oratory of the Sacred Heart over the years.
This Decade of Centenaries project was funded in 2019 by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and also dlr Libraries, dlr Heritage Office and Creative Ireland. It was supported by the Dominican Sisters, Cabra and the National Gallery of Ireland.
Photos: Peter Cavanagh