Royal Irish Academy

A Revolution in Profiles - Co. Offaly

In association with The Royal Irish Academy

John Francis Doody 1899-1963

John Doody was born in 1899 at Stoke on Trent where his father James T. Doody a Limerickman worked as an officer in Customs and Excise. The Doody family lived at various locations during John’s early years, but had settled in his mother Margaret’s native Kings County by the time of the 1911 census. His sister Mary Margaret married well known Tullamore Republican and Easter Week veteran Seamus O’Brennan in 1922.

A member of the Tullamore Volunteer Company, Doody took part in the Clara barracks attack in June 1920. Later that year he joined the North Offaly Active Service Unit, he participated in attacks on Crown Forces at the Range Wall Raheen in November and Newtown outside Kilbeggan in early 1921. Interned in March, he was of a large group of prisoners who escaped through a tunnel from the Curragh in September 1921.

Dispatched to take part in the republican take over of Birr Barracks, Doody initially took a pro-treaty position. Following the outbreak of hostilities, he served with the National Army at Maryborough/Portlaoise and Nenagh, but maintained contact with anti-treaty officer Sean McGuinness. In the Autumn of 1922, he deserted from the Free State forces and is marked as absent from the Curragh on the Army Census in September.

Returning to Tullamore he joined the anti-treaty IRA Flying Column commanded by McGuinness which operated in north Offaly, south Westmeath and Laois.  He took part in an attack on the National Army at Clonaslee and the occupation of Kilbeggan, when anti-treaty forces commandeered supplies from shops in the town and raided the local Bank of Ireland branch. Captured by Free State forces while sheltering at Keegans of Ballyduff,  Doody was tried for desertion before a court martial at Roscrea in late January 1923. He served 168 days imprisonment at Arbour Hill and was discharged from army on his release.

In 1932 following Fianna Fail’s rise to power, he enlisted the Army Reserve Corps. From the middle of the 1930s, he travelled the world as ships purser. He passed away at his brother Frank’s home on Bury Quay Tullamore in February 1963. Local IRA veterans led by Seamus Clarke and Paddy Egan escorted his funeral cortege through Tullamore and he was interned at Glasnevin cemetery.


1911 Census. Search online at

Military Service Pension Collection. John Doody (MSP34REF813). Brigade Activity Report (A17) search online at

Freemans Journal. 26 April. 1922.

Leinster Reporter. 18 November 1922. 

Offaly Independent. 25 April 1931. 23 February 1963.

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