New Stained Glass Window unveiled in Belleek Parish Church
New Stained Glass Window unveiled in Belleek Parish Church

On Friday 22nd May 2009 a new stained glass east window by David Esler of Leadlines and David Esler Stained Glass Studio in Belfast was unveiled in Belleek Parish Church by the Revd Noel Regan and his wife Joan, assisted by the Managing Director of Belleek Pottery, Mr John Maguire and his wife Catherine, along with Cllr Danny Caldwell Keenaghan, a descendant of John Caldwell-Bloomfield, one of the founders of Belleek Pottery. Speaking about the unveiling, Revd Regan said “the parish asked me to unveil the new window which was a great honour.” The unveiling which coincided with the parish’s flower festival provided, in addition to the flowers, another focal point for the weekend of activities. Revd Regan went on to say that “the window was a high point.”
The theme of the three light window, which is entitled The Potter’s Wheel, is based on the text from Jeremiah 18:6 “like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand.” To the top of the centre light are the Divine Potter’s hands moulding the clay. The potter puts pressure on the clay; tension and relief are involved in the process. Isaiah 64:8 “we are the clay, and you our potter, and all we are all the work of your hand” also reminds us that God the Father, creator, moulds his people like he created Adam from the dust; Genesis 2:7 “and the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life: and man became a living being.”
God’s love for his creation is symbolised by a cross (the symbol of the Church of Ireland) also a reminder of the pastoral work of the local church over the two hundred years of its existence in the parish; God’s love radiates out in a burst of warm colours. At the bottom of the cross is a potter in the process of throwing a pot, metaphorically a vessel to be used to God’s service reminding us that just as the pot is taking shape the faithful are being moulded in the likeness of Christ changed in the potters hand, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer,” Romans 12:12.
“ The discarded pot with its impurities is made new, just as we are renewed in faith through God’s love”; Jeremiah 18:4, “and the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make”; “God creates us to be useful to him.”
The skills of the potter are also highlighted by two vignettes right and left depicting basket weaving and hand decoration and painting of the wares. The ball of clay in front of the potter is the starting point; the raw material used in the creative process.
While the cross is the mark of Christian life, the first mark used by Belleek pottery is shown at the bottom of the centre light. The lattice shape behind the cross is formed by the patterns of the typical basket weave design associated with Belleek Pottery along with the borders of flowers and weave pattern using subtle colours; these connect to William Henshall who brought the art of ceramic basket making to Belleek.
This basket is the linking element connecting all three lights and serves as a symbol of the unity of God’s creation bringing different strands woven together to form the shape indicating a sense of unity of the Belleek community.
While the centre light has an emphasis on clay the left and right lights highlight the elements of fire and water which are important in the pottery processes. In the right hand light there is water which plays a role in powering the grinding and mixing processes. The scene shows the Belleek Bridge at the river Erne with sluice gates beyond and the water wheel in the foreground; all important elements to providing water power to the pottery.
The left hand light shows the old kilns which were important to the early firing process baking the clay to a high temperature. The trials and tribulations of life like the firing are necessary for us to become stronger and useful to God. The text from Jeremiah 18:2 links the scenes in the left and right lights, “arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear my words.”
The local church building is depicted with the Armstrong Memorial; this with the pointers and square in the border connect to the man who was a founder of the pottery and his links to the local church.
A little cottage in the left border relates to a story of local china clay with its special brightness and lustre of its whitewash finish. Shapes rise up right and left emphasising the elements of fire and water. These remind us that it is through the Holy Spirit and Baptism that we are raised up in our Christian faith.
The overall colouring of the details reflects the soft pastel tints used on the floral detail of Belleek pottery while the stronger purples and blues are used as a background colour symbolising the Kingship of Christ while the strong greens pick out the simple central cross providing a focus behind the altar.

New Belleek Pottery Basket

Belleek designer Catherine Townshend has created a special basket to mark the Bicentenary of the Belleek Church and the dedication of a very unique and wonderful set of new stained glass windows in the Church coinciding with the festival. This exquisite basket has several unique design features; the centre of the basket has a plaque showing the stained glass windows of the church, the edge of the basket has a combination of Bluebells, Roses and Daisies, all found in the local area and symbolically representing the people of the parish.

The basket is being launched after the opening service of the flower festival in the Church on Friday 22nd May. Orders will be taken for the basket up to 31st July 2009. Production of the basket will be limited to the number of orders taken to that date. Proceeds from the sale of the Basket will go to help the fund raising effort for the new Church windows and will be a very unique and collectable basket for the many Belleek collectors worldwide.

Narrative for photograph: Pictured with the new stained glass window in the background are Danny Caldwell Keenaghan, Stephen Leighton (Architect), Eileen Esler, and David Esler (Stained Glass Artist).


Date: May 2009