Royal Irish Academy

A Revolution in Profiles - Co. Offaly

In association with The Royal Irish Academy

Dr. Patrick Joseph/P.J. Doyle 1892-1964

Patrick Doyle was born at Ferbane in 1892. His father Patrick Sr was headmaster in the local school. His mother Jane (nee Feeney) operated a shop and had some interests in farming. A long running dispute over a field outside Ferbane between Jane and local publican Eugene Hennessy was the subject of legal cases before British, Republican and Free State courts

Patrick’s brother John Mary Doyle composed several poems about the area including ‘The Fields around Ferbane’, ‘The Hills of Bellair’ and ‘The Rose of Ballinahown’

Patrick Doyle joined the Irish Volunteers while studying in Dublin. A medical student he served with the 4th Battalion at the Jameson Distillery in Marrowbone Lane under Con Colbert on Easter Week.

Arrested and imprisoned in Britain in the aftermath of the Rising, he returned to Ireland after spells in Knutsford prison and Frongoch Camp. 

On Doyle’s release he attended a meeting in the home of John O’Gorman a Fenian veteran, where a Sinn Féin club and company of Irish Volunteers were established in the Ferbane area. Doyle was appointed company captain and later served as the Battalion commandant.

Doyle’s extended family went on to provide a number of prominent republican activists in the years that followed including the Feeneys at Ferbane and Whites at Rashina. In 1920 Doyle married Mary Fitzgerald of Coracullen whose brother Denis was promoted to Battalion O.C in the run up to the Civil War.  

Doyle qualified as a doctor in 1918 and was involved in the treatment of the sick at Ferbane during the Spanish Influenza. An effort in 1919 by the Birr Guardians to appoint Dr. Doyle as medical officer in the Kinnitty district became something of a political football. He eventually took up a position as dispensary doctor for Shinrone and Moneygall in 1920. After the shooting of Michael Kennedy by crown forces in January 1921 Doyle testified to an inquest to attending the Moneygall man for five days before he succumbed to his wounds.

Doyle supported of the Treaty and was a member of Cumman na nGaedhael throughout the 1920s. An officer on the Offaly committee of the Army Comrades Association. He ran unsuccessfully for election to the Dail Eireann on several occasions in the 1930s and served as a Fine Gael senator between 1937 and 1949.

 During the Emergency he joined the Local Security Forces and was a senior officer in south Offaly. An experienced cattle breeder, Doyle was a member of the Shorthorn Breeders Society and the Cow Testing Association.  In April 1964 Dr Doyle was interviewed about life in the village of Shinrone for the Teilfis Eireann documentary ‘Our Parish’.  For many years an athletic trophy the Dr. Doyle cup was raced for in Moneygall.

P.J. Doyle passed away in October 1964 and was buried in the Catholic section of Shinrone’s Church of Ireland graveyard.  The Offaly Independent observed …

Although he was prominently associated with the old Cumann na nGaedheal. and later Fine Gael Party, he never became politically, biased, and he was a sincere and reliant friend irrespective of political affiliations. Generous to almost a fault, he just could not refuse a genuine plea for aid or assistance, and beneficiaries of his bounty were legion. His passing removes one of the few representatives of all that was best in the passing generation, and his death is sincerely mourned not only by his widow family and relatives, but by the great majority of the people of West and South Offaly universally.‘ (1)

A monumental cross was erected by the people of Shinrone in recognition of his to contribution to the locality.  The memorial was unveiled by 1916 veteran Eamon Bulfin in April 1966.


Bureau of Military History Statements. Sean Dockery Witness 1711. Search online at

Military Service Pension Collection. Patrick Conroy MSP34REF18561. Search online at

J.F. Burke. The Midland Tribune 1916-1966 supplement online at

Padraig Heavin ‘On the banks of three rivers: Stories from West Offaly’ (Cork) 2015.

Sean Hogan. The Black and Tans in North Tipperary: Policing, Revolution and War 1913-1922. (Tipperary) 2013.

Dr. Philip McConway. ‘Offaly’s links to the 1916 Rising’. Online at

Brendan Ryan. Where the Brosna River flows. (Ferbane)1991

Brendan Ryan. ‘The poet and the rose’ in Offaly Heritage vol.5 2007-8. Edited by Rory Masterson (Tullamore) 2007.

Irish Independent 17 November 1936. 26 April 1966.

Irish Press. 28 November 1933.

Kildare Observer. 1 April 1933.

Leinster Reporter. 7 June 1919. 5 June 1920. 22 January 1921. 21 March 1925. 1 September 1932.

Nenagh Guardian 23 January 1937.

(1) Offaly Independent 17 October 1964.

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