Royal Irish Academy

A Revolution in Profiles - Co. Offaly

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Joseph Doolan 1883-1974

Joseph Doolan was born in 1883. His father Daniel was a farmer whom Joseph described as a Parnellite.

A member of the Killoughey hurling side, Joseph transferred to the Faughs club on his arrival in Dublin and joined the St Patricks Ambulance Society. Deeply interested in Irish culture, he first became acquainted with Eamon Ceannt after seeing him playing the uillean pipes at an aeraíocht in 1909.

Doolan enrolled in ‘A’ company, 4th Battalion of the Dublin Brigade of the Irish Volunteers in early 1914. The company used the Plunkett family home at Larkfield house, Kimmage as a base. When the Asgard landed a consignment of German rifles at Howth in July 1914, Doolan and the 4th Battalion were among the volunteers who received and transferred the shipment to Dublin under the supervision of Eamonn Ceannt. 

After completing a series of lectures in 1915, Doolin was transferred to the Battalion’s First Aid section. Mobilising on Easter Monday 1916 he served with the South Dublin Union Garrison until its surrender on the following Sunday. After the initial screening process at Richmond Barracks, he was imprisoned at Knutsford, Cheshire and Frongoch, Wales before being released in July 1916. 

During the War of Independence and Civil War, he was one of several former ‘A’ company members who went on to form the nucleus of the South Dublin unit of the Irish Citizen Army.

Following the Civil War, Doolan met and married Eileen Ryan a member of a republican family from Harold’s Cross. He spent his spare time arranging for the upkeep of republican graves and monuments. A long serving president of the National Graves Association, he presented a radio series on Radio Éireann titled ‘Patriot Graves of Glasnevin’.

In addition to his own statement to the Bureau of Military History, Doolan also provided the Bureau with the ‘Story of South Dublin Union’ an account of the 4th Battalions activities on Easter Week and was interviewed about his experiences by RTE television in 1966.  

He passed away on Christmas Day 1974 and was buried at Mount Jerome Cemetery. 


Bureau of Military History Statements. Joseph Doolan Witness 0199. Search online at

Military Service Pension Collection. Joseph Doolan MSP34REF62059. 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.

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

Military Service Pension Collection Blog. ‘The Irish Citizen Army in the Civil War’ online at

Irish Independent 17 November 1936. 26 April 1966.

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