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Fr Willie Doyle SJ

William Joseph Gabriel Doyle was born (1873) at Melrose, Dalkey Avenue, Dalkey, county Dublin. Known as Willie, Billie or Sloper (a comic book hero of the time), he was the youngest of seven children of Hugh Doyle, registrar of the insolvency court, and Christine Doyle (née Byrne). Growing up, Willie was devout, caring and cheerful. Educated at Ratcliffe College, Leicestershire, in 1891 Willie followed his older brother Charles into the Jesuits. After two years as a novice, he taught at Clongowes Wood College, where he produced The Mikado and founded the school magazine, The Clongownian. His Jesuit formation included periods in Belgium and England, and further teaching at Clongowes and Belvedere Colleges. After ordination at Milltown Park on 28th July 1907, Willie began work as an urban missionary and retreat giver in Ireland. His positive attitude made him a great success, and he travelled all around the British Isles. He was also the author of best-selling pamphlets on retreats and vocations.

Volunteering as a military chaplain in First World War, Fr Doyle was sent to France with the Royal Irish Fusiliers in early 1916. Within days of his arrival at the Front, he showed himself outstanding in the work of a chaplain. Lt Col HR Stirke noted that Fr Doyle was ‘one of the finest fellows that I ever met, utterly fearless, always with a cheery word on his lips and ever ready to go out and attend the wounded and the dying under the heaviest fire’. Present at the battles of the Somme and Messines, Fr Doyle was killed during the third battle of Ypres on 16th August 1917, while going to the aid of a wounded man near Frezenberg. He is commemorated on the Tyne Cot memorial, Belgium. Fr Doyle was awarded the Military Cross, and he was put forward for the Victoria Cross posthumously but did not receive it. Writing to Willie’s father, Hugh, in December 1917, Major General WB Hickie remarks that: ‘I could not say too much about your son. He was loved and reverenced by us all. His gallantry, self sacrifice and devotion to duty were all so well known and recognized. I think that his was the most wonderful character that I have ever known.’

Doyle, Willie, 1873-1917, Jesuit priest and chaplain

Photographs and postcards by the Imperial War Museum, London, England

Photographs and postcards sent to Prof. Alfred O’Rahilly by the Imperial War Museum, London, England, for use in his book on Fr Willie Doyle SJ. Includes a note ‘Don’t mix these with the others. Return these to me. These are photos which I bought but decided not to use.’ All photographs are dated and described on back. Photos are mostly of the ruins of Ypres, Guillemont, Loos etc. Sizes: 21 1/2cm x 16 1/2cm; 14cm x 9cm and 27 1/2cm x 9cm.

O’Rahilly, Alfred, 1884-1969, President of University College Cork

[Copy of] letter from Col. M. O’Grady to Hugh Doyle, father of Fr Willie Doyle SJ

[Copy of] letter from Col. M. O’Grady, Assistant Military Secretary at the War Office in Whitehall, London to Hugh Doyle, father of Fr Willie Doyle SJ. Informs him that Fr Doyle was mentioned in Despatches from General Sir Douglas Haig, which were published in the London Gazette.

O’Grady, M, Colonel in the British Army

Booklet entitled “Fr. Willie”

Booklet entitled “Fr. Willie”; part of the Irish Messenger series. Subtitled ‘His world-wide appeal and favours attributed to his intercession’. Contains a short reflection on his life and a list of reports from around the world of how Fr Doyle’s intercession, when invoked, benefited those who sought it.

Irish Messenger Office, 1888-

Article entitled ‘A Chaplain’s Story: Fr. Willie Doyle; A pastor across all divides’

Article entitled ‘A Chaplain’s Story: Fr. Willie Doyle; A pastor across all divides’. Recounts Fr Doyle’s time as an army chaplain in the First World War. Also includes a print-out of pages from a web-site dedicated to Fr Doyle. Accompanied by a note to Fr Fergus O’Donoghue SJ, Province Archivist, explaining their provenance.

Unknown

Curl of hair of Willie Doyle

Locket with a curl from the hair of Willie Doyle, at the age of three. With box.

Doyle, Willie, 1873-1917, Jesuit priest and chaplain

Various photographs and telegram announcing Fr Willie Doyle’s death

Photograph of aid post with Fr John Gwynn SJ (c.1914) faded photograph of Fr Willie Doyle SJ; Jesuits at Portnoo (1910); telegram announcing Fr Willie Doyle’s death; letter between Rev. Mother, Sister Benedict of the Convent of Locre, Belgium and Fr William F. Browne C.C. (21-31 August 1917), Fr Frank Browne’s brother.

Spiritual diaries belonging to Fr Willie Doyle SJ

  • IE IJA J/2/85
  • File
  • 31 March 1895 - 25 July 1917
  • Part of Irish Jesuits

Diaries in notebook and copybook form, belonging to Fr Willie Doyle SJ which documents his spiritual thoughts, confessions, resolutions and retreats notes, list of mortifications. Some are contemporaneous with his time as a chaplain in WWI, which he alludes to. Inserts comprise loose documents in the form of notes, prayers and letters (July 1908; 5 November 1911 - 16 April 1916) addressed to ‘My dear Child; My dearest Child’.

Copies of photographs of Fr Willie Doyle SJ

Copies of photographs of Fr Willie Doyle SJ, collected by his brother Fr Charles Doyle SJ. Includes image of Fr Willie Doyle SJ, taken in Aberdeen, 1908 by MacMahon, portrait photographer.

MacMahon, Vincent, photographer

“Father Willie” (Father Willie Doyle, SJ) as part of the “Irish Messenger Series”

  • IE IJA J/2/99
  • File
  • [1949-1970]; 11 July 1977
  • Part of Irish Jesuits

“Father Willie” (Father Willie Doyle, SJ) as part of the “Irish Messenger Series” published by the Irish Messenger Office. Includes a note from Diarmuid [ ], Fitzpatrick’s Book Shop, 12 Cathedral Street, Upper O’ Connell Street, Dublin to Fr Fergal [McGrath] SJ in which he refers to a reprint of an insert letter by T. Cain, 22 Limetree Crescent, Cockermouth, Cumberland which corrects Fr Doyle’s date of death.

Irish Messenger Office, 1888-

Letter from Fr Joseph Hurley SJ, seeking permission to attend the funeral of his cousin

Letter from Fr Joseph Hurley SJ, St Stanislaus College, Tullamore, County Offaly to Irish Fr Provincial John R MacMahon SJ seeking permission to attend the funeral of his cousin, Mother M Teresa. Refers to his need for a typewriter to keep up to date with his writing.

Hurley, Joseph, 1905-1984, Jesuit priest and Irish language editor

Letter from Fr Joseph Hurley SJ to Irish Fr Provincial concerning a crisis in the administration of Cullacht Mhuire

Letter from Fr Joseph Hurley SJ, Milltown Park, Dublin to Irish Fr Provincial Cecil McGarry SJ concerning a crisis in the administration of Cullacht Mhuire with a knock on effect in the administration of FÁS and An Timire. Seeks an appointment with Fr Provincial to discuss the situation. Refers also to his health and expresses his concern for the survival of An Timire under the circumstances.

Hurley, Joseph, 1905-1984, Jesuit priest and Irish language editor

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