Plans to erect statue of Cobh’s Jack Doyle

Irish Examiner - County - - Front page - Sean O’Rior­dan

Plans are be­ing made to com­mem­o­rate Cobh’s most fa­mous son by un­veil­ing a statue to the man who was known on both sides of the At­lantic as ‘The Gor­geous Gael’.

Cobh/Glan­mire Mu­nic­i­pal Dis­trict Coun­cil has de­cided to erect a statue to the late Jack Doyle in the har­bour­side town.

Doyle, who was born to a work­ing class fam­ily in Cobh in 1913, was a gifted boxer who later went on to be­come a Hol­ly­wood ac­tor and well­known tenor.

He joined the Ir­ish Guards, based in Wales, where his box­ing prow­ess was honed. He won 28 straight vic­to­ries, in­clud­ing the Bri­tish Army Cham­pi­onship, with 27 by knock­out.

Be­fore long he had turned pro­fes­sional and at the age of just 19 lost a Bri­tish Heavy­weight de­cider when beaten by the ti­tle-holder, Welsh­man Jack Petersen.

The fighter’s soft tenor voice was then dis­cov­ered by Dr Vin­cent O’Brien, voice coach to Count John McCor­mack. Sell-out gigs fol­lowed at the Lon­don Pal­la­dium and the Royal in Dublin be­fore he was signed up by the fa­mous record com­pany Decca.

Doyle’s hand­some looks also had Hol­ly­wood beck­on­ing and he starred in two movies, McGlusky the Sea Rover (1934) and Navy Spy (1937).

His love of the high life, which in­cluded se­ri­ous drink­ing and gam­bling, later led to his down­fall.

Doyle died pen­ni­less in 1978 at St Mary’s Hos­pi­tal in Padding­ton. He would have ended up in a pau­per’s grave had it not been for mem­bers of the Cork Ex-Box­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion who raised money to bring his body back home and bury him in Cobh’s Old Church Ceme­tery. There is al­ready a large mu­ral and two plaques in the town ded­i­cated to his mem­ory.

Cllr Diar­maid Ó’Cadhla told a meet­ing of the mu­nic­i­pal dis­trict coun­cil it was now high time that a statue be erected to Doyle’s mem­ory.

Jack Doyle died pen­ni­less in Lon­don in 1978.

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