Posts Tagged ‘Dublin Community’

“When the Blueshirts –the Irish fascists- caught me on a demonstration through D’Olier Street I was surrounded by a crowd of them. They got me down a laneway off Dame Street and were hammering me. The Police came and they joined in and then arrested me, dragging me up to O’ Connell Bridge to an inspector who was sympathetic…

When I was with the inspector for a moment,he said, ‘Can you run?’

I said ‘Yes!’ and was across the bridge like a hare”
Bob Doyle in Marx Arthurs fantastic ‘Real Band Of Brothers’

Bob Doyle was an interesting, and very complex character.

In 1933, a mob besieged Connolly House in Dublin. Connolly House of course was the home of the Communist Party of Ireland, and the hysteria was religious by nature. On the 29th of March, this crowd proceeded to set fire to the building, with Gardaí estimating the crowd to be in the region of five to six thousand people. One of those people was a certain Mr. Bob Doyle.

Bob would later end up joining the Dublin IRA, and joining the International Brigades in Spain. Not an easy task mind, as to get there he endured quite the hard life. Learning that the last group to depart for Spain from Ireland were gone, he decided to “get there on his own steam”, staying in Salvation Army shelters like that in Great Peter Street, Westminster. He ended up getting a job as a kitchen porter (“like Ho Chi Minh” he observes, in Max Arthurs book!) and even spent time in Marseilles sleeping on park benches and later hoped a ship to Spain, making a jump for the jetty and pulling a runner as the captain of the shop shouted “POLICIA!” at the top of his lungs. Some journey before seeing a single rifle.

A fantastic obituary to Doyle in The Independent noted that

During the Notting Hill race riots of 1958, Doyle, who lived in the area, organised patrols to protect immigrant West Indians as well as a demonstration which he headed carrying a placard saying “No Little Rock Here”. He also drew regular Sunday crowds of up to 600 at Speakers’ Corner, where he would attract attention by setting fire to newspapers and saying “That’s what I think of the capitalist press”. Trips to Spain were an opportunity to distribute anti-Franco leaflets: he scattered them in Madrid among football crowds and on buses before making a swift getaway.

‘Brigadista’ is the title of not alone Doyles autobiography (A fantastic read in itself) but also a recorded interview with Bob. His last one, in fact. Recorded by Dublin Community Television (DCTV) , the conversation took place during Doyles last visit to Dublin (He spent his later years living in London) This interview is essential viewing. A one on one conversation with Trade Unionist Mick O’ Reily, Doyle discusses not alone Spain but also Dublin and London.

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