Hanlon, Jack P. (John Thomas) (1913–68), priest and artist, was born 6 May 1913 in Dublin, eldest of three sons of James Francis Hanlon, butcher, and Kathleen Mary Hanlon (née Doyle). Christened John Thomas (13 May 1913) at St Joseph's church in Terenure, he rarely used this form of his name, preferring ‘Jack’ or ‘Jack P.’ It is not known what ‘P.’ stood for. In September 1922 he became a pupil of the Sacred Heart Convent in Leeson St., Dublin, and received his secondary education at Belvedere College (1924–32). His clerical studies began in 1932 at Holy Cross College, Clonliffe, Dublin. He also attended lectures at UCD and graduated with a BA (1935) under the name John T. Hanlon. In 1935 he moved to St Patrick's College, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, where he was ordained 18 June 1939.
Fr Hanlon's first clerical appointment was as chaplain to Arbour Hill prison, Dublin, in January 1941. Two months later he became chaplain to the Little Sisters of the Assumption in Dún Laoghaire. Between April 1942 and June 1945 he was curate at Corpus Christi church in Drumcondra, Dublin. He was curate at Donard, Co. Wicklow (1945–9), at Delgany, Co. Wicklow (1949–52), and at Wicklow town (1952–7). His final curacy began in Churchtown, Dublin, in March 1957. In failing health, Hanlon retired from Churchtown in January 1967 and went to live in Sandycove.
Having shown considerable artistic talent, he attended classes in the 1930s given by Mainie Jellett (qv) at her home in Dublin. He exhibited for the first time with the RHA in 1934. In 1936 he joined the Society of Dublin Painters and began exhibiting with them in 1937. Also in 1937 he entered for the Taylor art scholarship and prize, given by the RDS, and was awarded two prizes of £5 and £10. In 1939 he exhibited at the New York World's Fair, and after his ordination he studied with the Cubist painter André Lhote (1885–1962) in Paris – probably because of the influence of Jellett, who had studied and worked with Lhote in the 1920s. Although Hanlon's early works were traditional in style, he gradually came under the influence of Modernism. He painted religious subjects, landscapes, genre scenes, and still-life in oils, watercolour, and collage, and exhibited frequently in Ireland and abroad. He began his association with the Watercolour Society of Ireland in 1940. The first of his many solo exhibitions at the Victor Waddington Galleries in Dublin took place in October 1941. In 1943 he was among the founder members of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art, one of the most important movements in twentieth-century Irish art, and remained involved till his death. At this time he began to show paintings at the annual Oireachtas art exhibition.
His first church commission, a large oil entitled ‘Our Lady of the Sea’, was painted in 1953 for the chapel of the naval base at Haulbowline, Co. Cork, followed in 1955 by a set of Stations of the Cross for the Church of Stella Maris in Downings, Co. Donegal. Also in 1955 he won the third Hallmark International Art Award with a painting entitled ‘Angels and doves’. In 1957 he designed mass vestments which were presented to Pope Pius XII. He painted five panels for the Church of the Holy Rosary, Limerick, in 1958 and also illustrated a catechism that year. He was commissioned to paint a set of Stations of the Cross and a ‘Resurrection’ for Holy Cross catholic church in Seaview, Isle of Wight (c.1961/2). He was awarded the Douglas Hyde gold medal by the Oireachtas and a prize of £50 by the Arts Council in 1962 for a work entitled ‘Seipeal Chormaic’. His final church commissions were for St Patrick's church, Ardpatrick, Co. Limerick: ‘St Patrick’ (c.1965) and ‘Baptism in the Jordan’ (1966). He continued to paint and exhibit to the end of his life. In August 1968 he was taken seriously ill in Tullamore, Co. Offaly, and was brought to Dublin, where he underwent surgery, possibly for a burst appendix, at Jervis Street Hospital. He died 12 August 1968 and was buried alongside his parents in Templeogue cemetery, Dublin. He bequeathed fifty-three sketchbooks and one album to the NGI.