Stained glass artist;

Born: September 8, 1941; Died: July 4, 2013.

Claire Mulholland, who has died after a year-long battle with cancer, was an accomplished stained glass artist in addition to being well known in many other unrelated fields.

Born to a dentist father and solicitor mother in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, in the south of Ireland, she graduated from University College Dublin (UCD) with an honours degree in French and Spanish at the age of 19. She was recruited by a professor of Spanish to one of the first teams of linguists to criss-cross France and Spain researching the soldiers and families of the Wild Geese – Irish regiments in the service of European monarchs from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Her work took her to places such as a fairytale castle in Segovia, where the 20-year-old had to run the gauntlet of 3000 young soldiers on the esplanade as she went to delve into the archives each morning.

She was tall and striking. At boarding school in Mount Anville, the Sacred Heart Convent, a fellow pupil was Mary Robinson, the future Irish president. Mulholland was chosen, because of her height, to lead all processions, which was an ordeal for a shy girl. She was also appointed head girl. The friends she made at Mount Anville remained close for the next 60 years.

While at university she also managed to do a full-time course at the National College of Art for a year before having to opt for the academic world. Years later, she returned to what really was her preferred discipline, studying under William Crosbie at Glasgow School of Art. She moved to the city after her marriage to Joe Mulholland, a Scottish fellow student at UCD.

Children started to come along, the first of whom, Ciara, was sadly diagnosed with leukaemia in 1969, a few months before her third birthday. This was essentially a death sentence: 5% of children with the disease survived for five years. Ciara lived for 24 gruelling months. Mulholland, with her husband and some friends, set up the Glasgow and West of Scotland branch of the Leukaemia Research Fund (now Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research).

She worked tirelessly organising jumble sales (the first opened by her neighbour Johnny Beattie), door-to-door collections, can rattlings on the streets, concerts with Alasdair Macdonald and Anne Lorne Gillies, marathons and many other projects to raise cash for the cause. Help from the fund for research in the University of Glasgow and the School of Veterinary Medicine and local hospitals contributed to the establishment of Glasgow as one of the great centres for research and treatment of a disease that kills more children under 16 than any other.

Claire wrote a book of poems, I'll Dance with the Rainbows, to help come to terms with the loss of her child. The book has proved a boon to many other parents faced with similar loss, and several of the poems have been included in textbooks teaching doctors how to deal with relatives coping with bereavement.

She was named Scotswoman of the Year for her achievements in the Leukaemia Research Fund in 1979. Not bad for an Irishwoman, as she was wont to add.

Continuing with her painting, she was asked to help, on a voluntary basis, with a number of disruptive children, considered unteachable, at Notre Dame Primary School, where her own children were pupils. Youngsters who had been barred from the art classes for their behaviour were soon asking if they could have more lessons from her and turning out impressive pictures.

Some years later, an elderly friend who had suffered a stroke was left paralysed. Her hospital bed faced a blank wall. The old lady lay there day in, day out, gazing at the featureless wall. Mulholland spoke to the medics, to the art master at St Aloysius College, where her older children were pupils, and to the carpentry workshop at Low Moss prison in Bishopbriggs. The first result was 20 framed and cheerful paintings installed in the rooms at her friend's geriatric hospital. Mulholland spoke to other hospitals, to other schools. Eventually, 700 paintings adorned the previously empty walls of more than a dozen Glasgow hospitals.

Meanwhile, her husband had left writing for national newspapers to launch local papers in Glasgow, including the West End News. She became the women's editor, producing varied and interesting reading each week on the "trivial" subjects banished to that section in papers – like life and death, cooking, health, children and education.

A lifelong passion was birds. She could recognise every British and Irish bird by sight, song, flight pattern or stray feather and until a few weeks before her death was sending in returns for the RSPB Garden Birdwatch.

Almost 20 years ago she asked herself the question: "If I were to die today, what would I regret not having done?" Her answer was: "Not having made stained glass." She did a short course in Edinburgh to learn the mechanics of cutting and putting together pieces. She already knew the design and artistic side, with many exhibitions in oils and watercolours behind her. She took to glass work like a duck to water.

Exhibitions in Ireland and Scotland brought private commissions and many for church windows. Three years ago she was asked to create what she regarded as her greatest artistic achievement: seven windows for the Rock Chapel at St Beuno's Retreat Centre in north Wales, where Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote many of his great poems.

Letters arrive regularly, talking of inspiration, rediscovery of belief in God, and the sheer joy brought on by seeing the changing light filtering through the abstract colour-themed arrow-slit windows. St Peter's Church in Partick, and St Brendan's in Yoker each also have four windows by her.

A strong and believing but not unquestioning Christian, she was an active member of St Peter's parish, where she organised the weekly prayer group and founded and ran the Justice and Peace group for 30 years. This involved fundraising for local and third world charities, helping to furnish accommodation for the homeless, anti-Iraq War and pro-Palestine demonstrations, stake-outs of immigrant detention centres and other causes. She was an associate member of the Iona Community, and enjoyed many stays at the abbey there. Her faith sustained her greatly during her illness.

A totally different strand for the past 20 years has been her partnership with her husband of 48 years, that has created The Hidden Lane in Glasgow's Finnieston. In this complex of studios in formerly semi-derelict old stables in a tenement back court, writers, artists, designers, architects, model makers, musicians, jewellery makers and many others make a living.

Her son Mark is a musician, now based in Haiti, daughter Aefa is a travel writer and graphic artist living in Glasgow and Toronto, and daughter Orla is a freelance translator in classics and other languages from her home in Berlin. A younger son, Brian, adopted at the age of three, died eight years ago when he was 26, leaving a son Joseph.