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Collections Spotlight – ‘Madonna of the Quays’ by Clare Sheridan

Every week we shine a light on a different object from our collections that you may not have seen before.  This week we have a wooden statue by Clare Sheridan, ‘Madonna of the Quays’, which for many years was placed in a window in the old museum at Comerford House, overlooking the Spanish Arch and Fishmarket.

Clare Sheridan (née Frewen, 1885-1970) was a sculptor, writer and traveller, who spent much of her childhood and later years in Ireland. Born in London, England, she was a cousin of Winston Churchill, her mother was from New York and her father from Cork.  In 1910 she married Wilfred Sheridan and they had a family, two girls and a boy.  One of the girls died in infancy and she lost her husband in 1915 at the Battle of Loos, France.  After these tragedies, she dedicated her life to sculpture.  Her travels took her around Ireland, throughout Europe, to Russia where she met Lenin and Trotsky, and to the United States. Her work as a journalist led her to meeting a variety of people, including Michael Collins, Benito Mussolini and Charlie Chaplin.

In the late 1940s Sheridan moved to Galway and lived in what is now known as Comerford House, beside Spanish Arch.  A colourful character, she became somewhat a celebrity in Galway.  It is presumably at this time she carved the Madonna of the Quays.  Another of her sculptures, a crucifixion, is in the Christ the King Church, Salthill.

By the early 1950s Sheridan moved back to England.  In 1960 she entered the Franciscan Order as a nun. Clare Sheridan died in 1970, aged 84 years and is buried in the churchyard of St George’s, Brede, East Sussex.

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