A Tale of Two Banners

A Tale of Two Banners … short introduction to the two banners hanging in St Anthony’s Church, Clontarf …

While on holiday in Israel some time ago (1996) with my husband Paddy, he was attending an international conference and the husbands/wives were looked after during the lecture sessions with bus tours and general tourist attractions which were wonderful.

At that time the ‘Irish Patchwork Society’ was organising an exhibition “Blessed be the Piece Makers”, so even before we went on this holiday I already had an idea that I would make a banner with the theme of ‘Peace’. My hanging would be a play on the words “Piece” and “Peace”. At that time our church was being re-ordered and as I was on the committee I had the inside information concerning the art works and colour schemes under consideration.

My idea was to make something that would welcome and be understood by visitors to our church so I decided to utilise the indigenous script and language of several different countries i.e. those countries from which I could be assured that the information I sought was authentic. My aim was to transpose the words onto cotton fabric employing the Mola technique taken from the Cuna (Sons of God) Indians of Panama’s San Blas Islands. These people are mostly farmers and their primary law is to maintain peace. So the whole reasoning for me was perfect.

The Mola technique is worked by laying one colour upon another colour and folding back the top colour to reveal a thin edge of the colour below, and so on – this can usually be accomplished in three or four layers. The work is all hand sewn and can be extremely colourful. Embroidery is then added if required. For the Cuna Indians the colour employed by the Mola technique generally is from light to dark – the top layer is traditionally dark. Knowing that the main colour of our altar art was going to be blue/turquoise on bleached cedar. I dyed the fabric accordingly.

On the bus tours I made it my business to sit beside persons whom I knew would have national scripts/languages other than our alphabet. So one day I sat beside a Japanese person, then alongside an Ethiopian etc. etc. and thus I collected what I needed before the end of the holiday. It took a good while to make this banner.

Before giving it to St. Anthony’s Church I included it in an exhibition, which took place in Temple Bar (central Dublin) and invited the late Monsignor Devine to view it. He liked what he saw and then he asked me if I would make a complementary Banner on the theme of ‘Love’. Without the much appreciated help of my erstwhile travellers in Israel I wondered how I would source the information required. I visited certain embassies in Dublin and acquired some foreign scripts but not all. I asked friends who had friends from other countries to help complete the picture.

And so the two banners were completed after good fun and enjoyment.

My main memory of the holiday is walking in the footsteps of Jesus in Jerusalem, Nazareth and Galilee and paddling in the River Jordan. I have the distinct impression that Paddy might also have had an enjoyable and memorable holiday.!!

Mary O’Reilly


About the Banners …

The ‘PEACE BANNER’ on the left side of the altar is for Peace to all Nations and Peoples of the World.

Peave Banner

Peace Banner

From top to bottom the languages are:





Israel Arabic,

Guajarati (Indian),



Ethiopian, and

African Arabic.


The ‘LOVE BANNER’ on the right hand side of the altar remembers John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you”. Using a more modern lyric we could think of the ” Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay, Love isn’t love ’til you give it away! (Oscar Hammerstein).

Love Banner

Love Banner

From top to bottom the languages are:







English, and

Cantonese Chinese.