John Doyle, who died on January 11, 2021
This Tuesday, January 11 marks the first anniversary of the passing of one of Clonmel’s finest characters, John Doyle, late of Bianconi Drive, whose passing at the young age of 49 years was a great cause of sadness to his family and many friends, both in Clonmel and further afield.
Born on March 10, 1971, the older of two children, to his parents Sean and Kathy Doyle (née Looby), John grew up in Bianconi Drive, Clonmel with his younger sister Olivia, surrounded by a close-knit community of family and close friends.
Growing up in Clonmel in the 70s and 80s, John and his friends lived by the seasons.
In the autumn, they gathered chestnuts. They boiled them, baked them, froze them, anything to make them harder to play conkers with.
In winter, they made skids in the car track in Bianconi Drive so that they could have their own ski slope. Bags, pots and timber were all used to sit on going down the hill.
In spring, they collected tadpoles in the Frenchman’s stream, went fishing down the Quay and summers were spent swimming in the river up at the Island and, of course, painting a tennis court out the back when Wimbledon was on television.
His friends spent a lot of time in John’s house growing up. His mother Kathy was like a second mother to all his friends, so much so that when John got a wallop for doing something wrong, his friends got a wallop too (if they didn’t move fast enough).
John’s father Sean had a motorbike and whenever they visited John’s auntie Joan in College Avenue, the four of them – Sean, Kathy, John and Olivia climbed on to the bike. It was a sight to be seen – the whole family on the Honda 70 driving down the Cashel Road, with Dino the dog chasing behind them.
John was like a magnet and had a huge circle of friends. He was the life and soul of the party but you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of him, as he had a very sharp tongue. He had a nickname for everyone, not always complimentary.
After school, John went to England. A year later he arrived home on a two-week holiday and six months later was still at home. Eventually he returned to London and trained as a chef.
For the next few years John was a Londoner. He came home every Christmas with a stronger London accent than the year before. During the 90s he was obsessed with Ali G and walked and talked like him. However he always maintained his love of Irish heritage and history and was always a proud Irishman.
John returned home in the early 2000s and started a catering business called Doyle-a-Chef. His slogan was “real food for real people.”
Like a true boss, he took all the credit, while Sean and Kathy did all the work. Whenever he delivered food to a party, he stayed and joined the party.
It wasn’t his first time in business, as he had a fairly lucrative window washing business when he was around 14 until a window in Ard Gaoithe was broken and John and his friends had to leg it fast.
During the early 2000s John was diagnosed with MS but it didn’t change his attitude to life. His proudest moment was when his daughter Megan was born and he brought her around to all his friends to show her off.
John was a great advocate for the MS Society and did a lot of fundraising for them. He battled his illness with great bravery and courage and never said “why me.”
His studied for a diploma in Community Development at Waterford Institute of Technology and his graduation was a very proud day for all his family.
Five or six years ago, John’s beloved dog Geezer came into his life. By this time, John was in an automated wheelchair.
Whenever John went to the pub, Geezer went too. John told the publicans that Geezer was a guide dog for the disabled so he wouldn’t be left outside.
He was a lethal driver in the motorised wheelchair. He knocked the hinges off the door in The Local bar and rolled over every foot in Phil Carroll’s from the front door to the beer garden.
One night the wheelchair broke down in Phil Carroll’s, causing mayhem in the packed pub. John’s friends had to roll it across Clonmel and organise a trailer to pick it up the next day, while John was brought home smiling in a taxi full of single girls.
It wouldn’t be unusual to see him driving up the Cashel Road or even the bypass in the middle of the road, with a trail of cars behind him and Geezer running alongside him.
He didn’t care because he said he had the right of way on the road because he was disabled. Traffic lights didn’t mean anything to John. They were there for other road users.
John’s parents Sean and Kathy died eight years ago, within four months of each other. After their passing, John’s sister Olivia was an amazing support to John.
His health deteriorated in the last few years of his life and sadly he wasn’t able to do the things he would have liked to do.
In his last few months he was bed-bound but he never complained.
His friends and extended family were very good to him, calling to see him and helping out in any way they could, especially his aunt and uncle, Ned and Mary Doyle, who were his godparents, and who went beyond the call of duty on a daily basis.
John fought right up to the end and never let the MS beat him. His spirit stayed strong right until he died.
Unfortunately John never got to celebrate his 50th birthday, which occurred on March 10, two months after he died.
To mark the occasion of that landmark birthday, his family and friends gathered at his graveside, let off balloons and sang happy birthday.
John is deeply missed by his daughter Megan, sister Olivia, nieces Shannon Elise and Abbie-Kate, nephew Cathal, aunts, uncles, the Doyle and Looby families, his many, many friends and his beloved dog Geezer.
May he rest in peace.
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