I had an uncle who was a pilot. I never met him. He was only 26 when he died. Boy, but he was a legend (in our family anyway).
On the first of March 1949, Sergeant Pilot Michael McGloughlin of the Irish Air Corps was flying his Miles Magister plane at 1000 feet over Dublin. Here’s a quote from The Irish Press of the day: “The engine failed when the aircraft was over Griffith Barracks but the pilot was able to keep the machine under control as he circled over housing estates and crowded streets until finally, he decided to land on a CBS playing field near Clogher Road, known in the district as the Farmer’s Field…”
Another quote: “Mr Rhys Edwards, 67 Crumlin Road, one of the hundreds of people who saw the accident, said he was alighting from a bus at 2.15 when he saw the plane which was making no sound, flying very low over the rooftops. Fearing that the plane had crashed, he ran to the field and found Sgt. McGloughlin standing by the plane smoking a cigarette”.
And another cutting reads: “He had several silent minutes in the air to contemplate the near approach of death among the city rooftops, or else to bale out. “It just shows,” he said, brushing back his tousled fair hair, “how safe flying can be if you keep calm.”
Now, there were other stories too – we always heard that he flew his plane under the railway bridge at Drogheda (although I have no paper cuttings to prove this). It was also said that he was intending to fly under the Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin – but maybe that was just talk. We know anyway, that this never happened because his young life was cut short when his plane crashed in a field near Naas, Co. Kildare, just three weeks after the forced landing in Dublin city.
So why am I telling you this? Well, I was invited to exhibit in the Hamilton Gallery, Sligo for Yeats Day 2018 and, believe it or not, the theme for this year is the Yeats poem: “An Irish Airman foresees his death”.
So I made the painting above in fond memory of my Uncle.