Thursday, 13 January 2022

Three parables told in
the Charlotte Barrington
window in Limerick

The Charlotte Barrington window on the south wall in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

I was in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, early yesterday (12 January 2022), to meet colleagues in advance of a meeting in the Deanery.

The cathedral is filled with exquisite stained glass, But one window I had not photographed or described before is the Charlotte Barrington window on the south wall, sponsored by Croker Barrington in memory of his mother, Charlotte in 1858.

Three rows of panels in this stained-glass window tells three Gospel stories:

The top row of the Charlotte Barrington window tells the Parable of the Talents (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

The middle row of the Barrington window tells the Parable of the Talents.

The middle row of the Charlotte Barrington window tells the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

The middle row of the Barrington window tells the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

The bottom row of the Barrington window tells the Parable of the Vineyard and Wicked Tenants (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

The bottom row of the Barrington window tells the Parable of the Vineyard and Wicked Tenants.

A plaque beneath this window reads: ‘In memory of Charlotte, wife of Sir Matthew Barrington, Bart, who died November 18th 1858, this window was filled with stained glass by her son, Croker Barrington, as a mark of affection.’

Sir Matthew Barrington (1788-1861), 2nd baronet, was a benefactor, lawyer, and landowner. He was born 21 May 1788 in Limerick, the eldest of five sons and two daughters of Joseph Barrington, pewterer, and Mary Barrington (née Baggott).

He was educated in Limerick and at the King’s Inns, and established a thriving practice as a solicitor practice in Dublin and Limerick before being appointed Crown Solicitor for Munster. He held this post from 1814 until his death in 1861.

This was a period of political and agrarian unrest, and Barrington was respected for his integrity and professional judgment. He knew Daniel O’Connell, who organised a meeting on his estate in June 1843, attracting 200,000 people.

Barrington was a member of the River Shannon commission, solicitor and adviser to the Great Southern & Western Railway, and in 1848 he selected the site and chose the name for Limerick Junction, which remains notorious for the awkward manoeuvres needed for arriving and departing trains.

Barrington amassed a considerable fortune and in 1832 declined an invitation to stand for election as an MP for Limerick. He also founded of Barrington’s Hospital in Limerick and the City of Limerick Infirmary.

Barrington first acquired land in Co Limerick he married Charlotte Hartigan on 1 January 1814. Her father William Hartigan (1766-1812) was one of the surgeons who attended the dying Lord Edward Fitzgerald on his deathbed after the 1798 Rising. He built Barrington Bridge, laid out a magnificent park, created an artificial lake, and by 1825 had developed the village of Murroe for workers as he prepared for the building of Glenstal Castle.

Glenstal Castle was designed by the London architect William Bardwell (1795-1890) and work began in 1835. The castle, bought by the Benedictines in 1926 and is now at the heart of Glenstal Abbey and the school.

Barrington died on 1 April 1861 and was buried in the family vault in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick. His son Sir Croker Barrington (1817-1890), who erected the window and memorial, eventually succeeded as the fourth baronet in 1872.

The memorial plaque beneath the Charlotte Barrington window in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

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