Matt Loughrey's My Colorful Past project bridges "the gap between history and art", bringing colour to monochrome images. This week he turns his attention to this photograph from the RTE Photographic Archive's Cashman collection of Cathal O'Shannon (left) recovering from his hunger strike at the Mater Hospital, Dublin. He is being visited by Father Augustine Hayden of the Capuchin Order of Friars.
O'Shannon was a prominent member of the Labour Party and during the War of Independence, according to historian Lawrence William White, "he played a central role in the covert cooperation between organised labour and Sinn Féin".
He also assisted Labour leader Thomas Johnson in drafting the democratic programme that was one of the three key documents adopted at the inaugural meeting of the first Dáil. In April 1920, he was arrested in England and deported to Ireland, where he was charged with sedition and sent to Mountjoy. He was released after going on hunger strike for eight days.
Matt Loughrey enjoyed the challenge of working on this image of O'Shannon. "Joseph Cashman was a superb photographer," says Loughrey. "He spent years as an amateur and I think it's arguable that gave him an advantage over his contemporaries. He was creative, with a way of framing and creating a scene like nobody else."
Loughrey was impressed by Cashman's technical skills, and was pleased to be able to reverse the ravages of time on the image. "It's evident too that he'd great equipment to hand, this comes across in the clarity of his work. In colour it was fast apparent that there was far more detail in the hand of Father Augustine Hayden where the vein network was now visible. Moreover a lot of superficial damage and wear was addressed."