‘Intervals of Peace’: The Civil War Prison Art of Alfred McGloughlin
On 21 October 1922, several months into the Irish Civil War, Alfred McGloughlin was arrested in his home by Free State forces and brought to Wellington Barracks in Dublin. He spent the following year as a political prisoner, first in Wellington Barracks, then Hare Park in the Curragh, before a final stay in Mountjoy Prison from where he was released on 13 October 1923. Although he was an active supporter of the Anti-Treaty side, he was never charged with a specific offence. He experienced periods of severe ill-treatment during his incarceration but, as mentioned in his obituary in 1932, he also found ‘intervals of peace in prison, sketching in watercolours, and filling a portfolio with pencil-drawings of his comrades’. 39 portraits and watercolour sketches of Mountjoy by Alfred McGloughlin will go on public display for the first time in Kilmainham Gaol in a special exhibition to mark the centenary of the Civil War.
Alfred McGloughlin was the nephew of 1916 leaders Patrick and William Pearse and grew up in the Pearse household. He later helped in the running of Patrick Pearse’s school, Scoil Éanna. He went on to become a draughtsman with J & C McGloughlin Ltd., a decorative metalwork business owned by his father’s family, and studied art part-time in the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art.
McGloughlin also developed an interest in theatre where he wrote and performed in numerous plays. He joined the Irish Volunteers and was involved in the Howth gun-running of 1914. He was Sinn Féin’s director of elections in south Dublin for the 1918 and 1921 elections and stood as a candidate himself during the local elections of 1920. Following his release from prison he set up his own building company. When this business failed, he obtained a position as a draughtsman with the Office of Public Works. He remained active as a political journalist, and was a regular contributor to the republican newspaper ‘An Phoblacht’. His health never recovered from his time in prison and he died from heart disease aged just 44 in 1932.