Thursday, August 29, 2013

Jack Doyle - Gala Dinner & Birthday Bash


The highlight of this weekend's Jack Doyle Centenary will be the Gala Dinner/Birthday Bash. Michael Taub, author of 'Jack Doyle - The Gorgeous Gael' will be flying in from the UK to speak on the night. Music will be provided by 'The Contenders.' Tickets are available at the hotel reception - at only €34.95 they're great value!!!

Jack Doyle - Dearest Mr. Blarney

    With Jack's glory days well behind him the Dodge family women still had somewhat of a 'hankering' for him.....

     'Jack had again tasted fame, but the trappings of success he once took for granted had slipped tantalisingly beyond reach. They were the unattainable baubles of a bygone age. His slender consolation was the certain knowledge that the heady days of the past would be remembered with affection by those he had known. Delphine Dodge's daughter, Christine Cromwell, was one who would never forget and she wrote him a string of letters professing her love.
    Christine admitted that Jack was the first and greatest love of her life and her correspondence bore witness. In 1963 she sent him a colour photo of her and her father inscribed: 'Love to Jack, who has ever been in my thoughts. Christine.' Although twenty-eight years had elapsed since she vied with her mother for Jack's body and soul, the passions aroused in her were such that she had never been able to find true and lasting happiness with anyone else.
    In the mid-1960s Christine was a property-owning resident in the British Virgin Islands. She also had a yacht, from which she operated a fishing enterprise with two partners. The first letter to her 'Mr. Blarney' was dated May 1, 1965, and there were shades of Judith Allen's poetic touch enshrined in its breathless message:
    'Darling -
      My goodness I need you so badly. What twist of fate is it that keeps us apart? Not long now, tho [sic] - My love, dearest Mr. Blarney.'
      She signed herself simply 'C.'

    It appeared that Christine, then forty-two, was as deeply in love with Jack as ever, although it is doubtful he was of the same persuasion. At this time he would not have been interested in her body and still less her intellect. He would have been after one thing only: her money. This was evident from her second communication, a long-winded missive in which she claimed to have been badly beaten by one of her partners in the fishing enterprise she was running between Barbados and San Juan. It transpired that she had been in touch with Jack by telephone and, reading between the lines, the inescapable conclusion is that he pleaded poverty to her. Her letter read in part:

    'My very dearest Mr. Blarney,
      Dear God above it was wonderful to talk to you, but my distress as to why I called you this time has made a mercyless [sic] ache in my heart for you. Perhaps some day I can make this up to you just a little bit.
      Let me express my very deep hurt for you, and say again I will help you all I can. Please keep good care of yourself for you and for me. Altho [sic] there is a good friend here, my needs have been for you.
      My love and affection and my heartfelt sympathy - there's still life for us yet.'

    Again she signed off with a simple C.
    Whether Christine did indeed render Jack financial assistance is doubtful. Nancy Kehoe could not recall him receiving a sum of money from the Virgin Islands or anywhere else for that matter. She was working as a waitress at the Cumberland Hotel at the time and though she may have been unaware of much of what went on in his life she could not have failed to notice had he become suddenly and significantly better off.
    It appears, too, that the ache in Christine's heart was not so 'mercyless' as to send her rushing to Jack's side. Her words had echoed sentiment rather than intent; they were written in recognition of a love for him that was still alive in spirit but dead in practicality. All contact between them then ceased. Whatever feelings they had for each other faded once more into distant memory.'

Many thanks to Michael Taub, author of Jack Doyle: the Gorgeous Gael, for allowing us to reproduce excerpts of his book here. Many thanks also to his publishers Lilliput Press, Dublin.

Michael will be speaking at the Gala Dinner/Birthday Bash on the night of Jack's 100th anniversary of his birthday, as part of the Jack Doyle Centenary Weekend. The weekend events take place from Friday 30th August to Sunday 1st September.

Highlights of the weekend include:

·  A Boxing Tournament on Friday 30th August - organised under the auspices of the IABA Cork County Board. (Tickets available at the Commodore Hotel @ €10)
·  A gala dinner with guest speaker Michael Taub, author of 'Jack Doyle; the Gorgeous Gael.' Music by the 'Contenders' Saturday 31st August. (Tickets available at the Commodore Hotel €34.95)
·  Official opening of the Jack Doyle Mural on Saturday 31st August (pics below) - all welcome to attend.
·  The Jack Doyle Play with actor Luke Barry on Sunday 1st September. (Tickets available at the Commodore Hotel @ €5)
·  Guided Walking Tours and tours on the Cobh Road Train, Historical Workshops, street theatre, classic car displays, commemorative mass & subsequent ceremonies in Cobh's historical Promenade, guided tours of the Old Cemetery where Jack is buried and much more.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Jack Doyle - Birthday Bash

Jack Doyle Centenary Weekend:- Well its almost here....highlight of the weekend will be the Gala Dinner/Birthday Bash. Michael Taub, author of 'Jack Doyle - The Gorgeous Gael' will be flying in from the UK to speak on the night. Music will be provided by 'The Contenders.' Tickets are available at the hotel reception - at only €34.95 they're great value!!!

Jack Doyle - Jack and Movita

Jack's life seemed to settle down somewhat after his marraige to beautiful Mexican actress, Movita,.....

 
  'The fact that Jack's stage act included his beautiful new wife gave him greater appeal, but now it was a very different kind of mass hysteria that greeted his every public performance. Though still one of the greatest sex symbols of his time, his union with Movita had become the standard-bearer for an idyllic and successful marraige. To the public at large this glamorous couple personified all that love and happiness should be. Theirs was a high-profile partnership accentuated by constant media attention and hero worship. To label them the Oliver and Leigh and Taylor and Burton of the late thirties and early forties would not be overstating their popularity:

    'We could not go into a restaurant without being mobbed. People would do silly things like grab one of my shoes as I was getting into a taxi. It was just incredible. We were so obvious - big Jack and little Movita. We had all our stage clothes specially made for us, right down to the shoes. I had a dress-maker, Len Pearson from Huddersfield, who used to make some very beautiful clothes. And I had a shoe-maker - such beautiful shoes and lovely turbans I used to wear.'

    People from all walks of life were fascinated by Movita. She became a trend-setter in much the same way Princess Diana did several decades later. Fashion-conscious women, even prostitutes, began wearing the turbans that were her stylish signature:

    'We were very, very popular and highly-paid. We were working extremely hard and Jack was behaving beautifully. There was no trouble until after war was declared. But even then we were still working as hard as ever and earning big money. Jack volunteered to rejoin his old regiment, the Irish Guards, as either an officer or physical training instructor, but was told, "No. You and Movita are doing more for the war effort by appearing and entertaining the troops." I remember everything so well. We were entertaining the troops for free, entertaining at hospitals and entertaining people in the subways, where Londoners sheltered during the bombing raids. We used to bring them food - fish-and-chips and things - and candy. We also sang for them and signed autographs. We did a lot of that. We did everything that people did during the war - anything to try and help. We were so much in demand that we sometimes did seven shows a day, by God! Two shows a day in the theatre - three when there was a matinee - and the rest was all entertaining troops and sick people. It was really exhausting. We also did a lot of appearances at factories to help boost the morale of the workers. They adored us wherever we went. Everyone used to gather round and mob us. It was almost unreal.'

    Shortly after volunteering to enlist, Jack took over The Cartwheel, a roadhouse in rural Buckinghamshire. In addition to it being a place of refuge from his legion of admirers in London, he regarded it as an ideal, easily-run business venture that would occupy Movita and other members of his family while he was away soldiering. He had written to the Irish Guards asking them to take him back because, as a neutral Irishman, he felt he should do his bit for the country in which he had made his name. When told he would not be required, he kept the Cartwheel for a while, doing impromptu cabaret spots there with Movita. They booked in other well-known artists, including the celebrated black singer-pianist Hutch. The Cartwheel, which lays back off the main London-Amersham road, was a charming venue complete with gallery and ballroom. Teas were served in the afternoons and dinners in the evenings, with top cabaret thrown in:

    'Jack had fancied a nice, quiet place in Buckinghamshire. It was lovely out there - very picturesque and countrified, with beautiful apple trees all around. But he soon got fed up with it because he liked London, the bright lights and plenty of people around him. He was too fond of the night-life, the glamour, the activity. But he tried, I guess.'

    Jack and Movita also rented a riverside cottage in Maidenhead, 'Wynnstay', from the Baroness de Sarigny. They looked on it as their country home and spent as many weekends as possible there during breaks from touring:

    'We had a woman servant who once worked for the Royal family. She was wonderful and looked after the place for us. We would go down to Maidenhead and she would have the tea ready for us and everything. But I remember one night, after we went to bed, I awoke and wanted to go to the bathroom. I couldn't get up - I was feeling too heavy and could not lift my body out of bed. I woke Jack and said, "Something's wrong with me. I want to go to the bathroom but I can't get up. I'm too heavy." He said, "Oh my God, so am I." Then I just passed out. What had happened was that we had left the gas fire on and it was leaking. It was the middle of the night and we had almost gassed ourselves. Jack managed to get up, drag me to a window and break it. Had I not wanted to go to the bathroom, we would have been dead. It was a beautiful old cottage, but I'll always remember it because of what happened. We decided not to stay there after that.'

   
Jack and Movita were happy together during the early part of the war, with hardly a cross word passing between them. According to her they were also earning a considerable sum - around €500 a week - from their popular double act. It was perfect harmony all the way, both on and off stage.
    Suddenly, things started to go wrong. First they met with serious financial trouble, allegedly as a result of the activities of their personal secretary Kathleen Look, described by the late Sir Atholl Oakeley in his book Blue Blood on the Mat as a 'Venus' and 'quite the most glamorous woman, outside the Ziegfeld Follies, that I have ever seen'.
    Movita uses no such superlatives to describe Miss Look:
    'Kathleen came with us wherever we were appearing. We appointed her because she had been a top promoter and her references were impeccable. She handled the finances, paid the bills and looked after everything. Somehow we always managed to get her a room from where she could work. We trusted her completely, but I soon noticed that whenever I happened to buy a fur coat, she would buy one, too. I used to say to Jack: "Kathleen must be well off." We were so naive and trusting that we didn't suspect a thing. Sometimes Jack would say to me: "Kathleen dresses very well, doesn't she? That fur coat must have cost a pretty penny. How does she do it?"
 
It's funny now, but we just did not realise. She was well-spoken and well educated and her mother was terribly, terribly Oxford. Jack was a trusting person and assumed Kathleen must have been rich. She was always very smartly dressed when she toured with us. If I bought a dress, she would buy one: it would all go on Jack's bill. Goodness knows how much she spent overall, but it must have been a fortune. He would give her so much to pay bills, but she never settled them. She was with us for a good while and was fiddling all the time. Jack never suspected a thing, so how would I?
    She was a thief, let's face it. She wrote all the letters and signed the cheques, so she knew what to do to keep the creditors quiet. The whole mess wasn't uncovered for ages because she had been fending off the creditors by paying them so much each week. But eventually they all got together and the pressure became so great that she had to confess. She couldn't do a thing - the game was up. She offered to pay them back at £5 a week, but it was no good. The creditors were pressing their claims and Jack was forced to go bankrupt because he still owed all the people he had already paid, or thought he had paid. He said: "What are we going to do? We can't call in the police because Kathleen will go to jail - and for what?" He did not have the heart to turn her in.'

    At Jack's public examination in February 1941 his liabilities were listed at £1,689, with no assets, and he agreed to pay over to his trustees whatever money he could for creditors. It takes only a simple mathematical equation to deduce that he could have cleared the entire debt in a matter of weeks with his and Movita's earning power. Granted he was still supporting his parents - for whom he had bought a new £500 terraced house in Greenford, Middlesex - and his living expenses were undoubtedly high, yet a short period of relative austerity would have salvaged his situation and his reputation.
    Bankruptcy signalled the start of a slippery decline which he would find hard to arrest. Movita remembers him suddenly receiving bad publicity and sinister threats:

    'The threats came after articles appeared in the newspapers saying Jack had refused to fight for England in the war. It was all so untrue, because he had volunteered to rejoin the Irish Guards and been turned down. And we had exhausted ourselves doing charity concerts to help the war effort. The stories in the papers were followed by anonymous letters saying, "If you appear at such-and-such a venue, you will be shot." We carried on for a while, because at first these threats did not worry him: Jack Doyle wanted to prove he wasn't afraid. But after a while, when they continued, he became concerned. He was scared I might get shot at or something. There were lots of threats - some even by telephone - but he never talked about them because he didn't want to alarm me. He was frightened for me rather than for himself'

Many thanks to Michael Taub, author of Jack Doyle: the Gorgeous Gael, for allowing us to reproduce excerpts of his book here. Many thanks also to his publishers Lilliput Press, Dublin.

Michael will be speaking at the Gala Dinner/Birthday Bash on the night of Jack's 100th anniversary of his birthday, as part of the Jack Doyle Centenary Weekend. The weekend events take place from Friday 30th August to Sunday 1st September.

Highlights of the weekend include:

·  A Boxing Tournament on Friday 30th August - organised under the auspices of the IABA Cork County Board. (Tickets available at the Commodore Hotel @ €10)
·  A gala dinner with guest speaker Michael Taub, author of 'Jack Doyle; the Gorgeous Gael.' Music by the 'Contenders' Saturday 31st August. (Tickets available at the Commodore Hotel €34.95)
·  Official opening of the Jack Doyle Mural on Saturday 31st August (pics below) - all welcome to attend.
·  The Jack Doyle Play with actor Luke Barry on Sunday 1st September. (Tickets available at the Commodore Hotel @ €5)
·  Guided Walking Tours and tours on the Cobh Road Train, Historical Workshops, street theatre, classic car displays, commemorative mass & subsequent ceremonies in Cobh's historical Promenade, guided tours of the Old Cemetery where Jack is buried and much more.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Jack Doyle - and his wandering eye

 
Beryl Markham
Jack had many, many women in his life. His love of women made it impossible to commit himself to one. Even in marraige Jack would soon wander. One of his most public affairs was with Beryl Markham.....

 '....Jack's fitness was not at all it might have been. His attention had been diverted from the Staal fight by a liaison with the world's leading woman pilot, Beryl Markham, to whom he had been introduced at a party in his smart Carlton Court flat in Hereford Street, Mayfair.
    It was an improbable relationship on three fronts. First, Jack was still supposedly pining for Judith Allen; second, he should have been in strict training; and third, Beryl, at 34, was 11 years his senior.
    At the time she was enjoying world celebrity status after becoming the first woman to fly the Atlantic solo east to west - a feat previously achieved only by Amy Johnson's hell-raiser of a husband Jim Mollison. But Beryl's record-breaking flight (she crash-landed in Nova Scotia) was considered more meritorious because she took off from Abingdon in Berkshire, whereas Mollison had taken the shorter route from Ireland.
    Beryl was a remarkable woman who had been brought up in the British East Africa (now Kenya) by her father, Charles Clutterbuck, an ex-Repton and Sandhurst man who had been attracted there by the Government's drive to encourage white settlers. It was believed that millions could be made by developing and farming the sparsely-populated protectorate, as had happened in India, and Clutterbuck purchased 1,000 acres of land in Njoro, on the slopes of the magnificent Mau Escarpment. Beryl's mother Clara disliked the social isolation of life in the African bush and had no wish to be part of her husband's pioneering adventures there. Also, she was missing her sick son Richard, Beryl's elder brother. He had been sent back three months earlier because the humidity did not agree with him and she decided to go home to Leicestershire, leaving the four-year-old Beryl in Kenya with her father.
    Beryl was raised alongside the Nandi and Hipsigis tribes and would later distinguish herself as a successful racehorse trainer and aviator-pursuits not previously graced in large number by women. She would have a well-publicised affair with Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester, and immortalise herself further with a remarkable memoir, West With The Night.
    At the time Beryl was introduced to Jack by Jim Mollison she was separated from the second of her three husbands, the wealthy and aristocratic Mansfield Markham, by whom she had a seven-year-old son Gervase. Domesticity was not her stock-in-trade and Gervase was brought up by his grandmother, Lady Markham.
    Beryl had inherited her father's fierce spirit of independence and was obsessed with the desire to push back the frontiers of male-dominated society. She was far more relaxed in the company of men, mainly because they shared her own aspirations of success and achievement in an age when women in the main were programmed for lives of subservience. What an inspiration she must have been to women like herself seeking to prove themselves in a man's world. But a spirit of independence can foster an attitude that holds no respect for customs and traditions  and she had little regard for the sanctity of marraige - either her own or, for that matter, anyone else's. The fact that Jack was a married man certainly did not deter her - or him.
    Beryl would never have qualified as a glamour girl in the film-star sense, but her tall, slender frame and high cheekbones gave her a classical, noble beauty that was accentuated by clear blue eyes and lustrous fair hair. In addition she was an extremely elegant dresser. Her greatest asset, however, was the sheer force of her personality, and once this formidable woman had set her cap at Jack she was bound to win him - just as with Prince Henry. She was said to have possessed a 'warm sexual appetite' and to have been an undisguised pursuer of the rich and famous, which, presumably, was why she latched on to Jack. In his case the conquest would have presented no particular difficulty in the light of Judith Allen's observation - learnt at first hand and to her considerable cost - that he could not resist sharing himself.
Beryl and Jack
    Beryl had no elaborate plan to entice him, apart from letting him know that he alone was the man with whom she would like to fly halfway round the world. She was seeking sponsorship for further remarkable exploits in the field of aviation and hoped to team up with Jack for a record-breaking flight that would 'startle the world.' Beryl coupled her announcement with the news that she would be giving him flying lessons at Hatfield once the fight with Staal was out of the way. Although the Press never hinted at a physical relationship between the pair, those close to Jack knew the score. And it is doubtful if Judith was fooled, even from 6,000 miles away.
    When Jack finally found time to resume training at Windsor, the strict daily regimen of running, exercising and sparring brought him down from the clouds and convinced him that the intended venture - the 'secret' destination was believed to have been Australia or South Africa - was in reality a flight of fancy that he had no wish to pursue. The intense sexual partnership with Beryl was another matter entirely; he appeared to be in no hurry to bring that to an end and therein lay the great enigma of the man. Bill Doyle confirmed that Jack was still deeply in love with Judith and making efforts to win her back at the very time he was consorting with Beryl Markham. Perhaps he had been feeling in need of some female company when their flight paths crossed, or perhaps it was as basic as being unable to resist another - and famous - conquest. More likely it was both. But if he really did love Judith as much as he claimed, earning his wings with Beryl was an odd way of showing it.
    He had genuinely feared for Judith's life on hearing she had been marooned by floods while on location for her latest film. When news eventually filtered through that she was safe and well, he was determined to hammer Staal into submission for a victory he was confident would bring her rushing back to his side.
    Fight night proved as remarkable a spectacle as has ever been witnessed at any boxing event in Britain. Every seat at Earl's Court was occupied - despite it being only Jack's second comeback fight and the disgrace of the first. Indeed there were the familiar scenes of countless hundreds of spectators being turned away and police having to call up reinforcements to prevent the entrances being broken down. It was as if he had never been away.
    Jack's reception can only be described as fantastic. Even Jack Dempsey and Georges Carpentier in their heyday were never received so rapturously, said one newspaper report. But the welcome he received when he climbed into the ring was eclipsed by the tumultuous ovation that accompanied him as he returned to his dressing-room after the fight. Dozens of admirers rushed to his corner, men threw their programmes and hats high into the air and evening-gowned women stood up, or in some cases jumped on to their seats, to add to the din with their screams of delight. If Jack had won the world championship he could not have been more of an idol, and only the fact he would not permit himself to be lifted prevented him being carried off in triumph. 'I cannot recall another scene like it,' reported Trevor Wignall.
Doyle and Staal at the weigh-in
    Jack had started the fight in nonchalant, even careless fashion, as if his thoughts were far away in Hollywood. In the first round he took a swinging blow to the head and then a right to the chin that felled him for eight. There was a gasp as he went down, but Jack had sense enough to stay on one knee until his head cleared. Staal was strong and dangerous, but limited. What little boxing there was came, strangely enough, from Jack, who used his left to good effect. But even his heaviest punches did not succeed in shaking Staal until the fifth round, when the Dutchman began to feel the cumulative effect of the punishment he had absorbed. Even so, he was still menacing in bursts. Jack was hurt by a right hand to the jaw, but soon recovered and went on the attack. Staal, his face bruised, and bleeding from a cut ear, became a chopping-block for Jack's powerful punches in the sixth. He was reduced to a state of near-helplessness and was staggering round the ring, his hands hanging limply by his side, when the towel was thrown in to signal a Dutch surrender......'

Many thanks to Michael Taub, author of Jack Doyle: the Gorgeous Gael, for allowing us to reproduce excerpts of his book here. Many thanks also to his publishers Lilliput Press, Dublin.

Michael will be speaking at the Gala Dinner/Birthday Bash on the night of Jack's 100th anniversary of his birthday, as part of the Jack Doyle Centenary Weekend. The weekend events take place from Friday 30th August to Sunday 1st September.

Highlights of the weekend include:

·  A Boxing Tournament on Friday 30th August - organised under the auspices of the IABA Cork County Board. (Tickets available at the Commodore Hotel @ €10)
·  A gala dinner with guest speaker Michael Taub, author of 'Jack Doyle; the Gorgeous Gael.' Music by the 'Contenders' Saturday 31st August. (Tickets available at the Commodore Hotel €34.95)
·  Official opening of the Jack Doyle Mural on Saturday 31st August (pics below) - all welcome to attend.
·  The Jack Doyle Play with actor Luke Barry on Sunday 1st September. (Tickets available at the Commodore Hotel @ €5)
·  Guided Walking Tours and tours on the Cobh Road Train, Historical Workshops, street theatre, classic car displays, commemorative mass & subsequent ceremonies in Cobh's historical Promenade, guided tours of the Old Cemetery where Jack is buried and much more.



Saturday, August 24, 2013

Jack Doyle - the Big Fight!!!

    After Jack left the Irish Guards he began his career as a professional boxer. He had departed with an unbeaten record as a boxer in the army in any case - 28 fights, 28 wins, an incredible 27 of them by knockout. In little over 12 months he was fighting for the British Heavyweight Crown....

 
  'The capital was at a standstill on the evening of the fight. All roads leading to the magnificent White City Stadium, with its imposing concrete edifice and huge banks of terracing, were jammed by long lines of cars and taxis and awash with crowds of people who had spilled from the pavements. There was chaos as police attempted to control the traffic and the heaving masses.
    Jack and his entourage were forced to run the gauntlet after deciding to abandon their taxi half a mile from the stadium. Star-struck admirers could not believe their luck; they besieged him with such animated fervour that at one stage he was in danger of disappearing beneath a sea of well-wishers. Sullivan, trainers Alf Hewitt and Fred Duffett and the ever-vigilant Bill Doyle had the tough and at times hazardous job of fighting off the fans. One woman armed with a pair of scissors attempted to cut off a lock of Jack's hair.
    Once inside the sanctuary of the dressing-room, Jack's behaviour - high on nervousness and dread - entered the realms of outrageous. 'He started playing the role of court-jester,' recalled Bill Doyle. 'He began laughing, joking and singing. No one would have believed there was a big fight ahead.' He ignored Sullivan's exhortation to, 'Relax, Jack, lie down and rest.' Instead he engaged those around him in light-hearted banter as he pored over the dozens of telegrams that had arrived and took stock of several quite elaborate bouquets. Only when his hands had been bandaged in preparation for gloving-up did Jack finally manage to compose himself. He stretched out and closed his eyes for a few minutes, seemingly oblivious to those around him as, inwardly, he summoned help to aid him in the heat of championship battle.
    Jack knew he would need some kind of miracle, an infusion of supernatural strength, to enable him to wrench the title from Petersen's grasp. His biggest worry was that in the event of his failing to finish the job early, he would be punched senseless by the educated fists of ex-public schoolboy Petersen and become a laughing stock, a figure of fun, a boy who could sing but could not fight. Jack feared the spectre of humiliation like most people fear death. His phobia had its roots in his austere upbringing in the Holy Ground, when it was humiliation enough to have been brought up in poverty. That was something over which he had no control: he had been born into it. But it fostered in him a resolve that he would never be the victim of circumstance in the areas of his life he could control. This is what spurred him to become such a formidable fighter. The thought of defeat was anathema to him. From his earliest scraps in the quarry in Queenstown, through his waterfront battles with men twice his age, to the pulsating punch-ups with Pettifer and Bouquillon, in which he turned imminent first-round disaster into stunning second-round victory, the sense of shame he would have felt in defeat was the crucial motivating factor.
    Though yet to be beaten in any contest, he could be forgiven for thinking his run was about to end. He doubted with a deep sense of foreboding that his appeal to Providence would be answered. He had always been a good Catholic as a boy but, since his rise to fame, he had allowed himself to be diverted from regular attendance at Mass and from saying the night and morning prayers that had always been such a comfort to him, especially during his first days in England. Because he was now turning to prayer more or less as a last resort, he was uncertain as to its efficacy. A spurned God might not help him at all. Or, worse, punish him by making sure he lost!
    What a dilemma he faced. His championship challenge was the realisation of all the hopes and dreams he had nurtured since boyhood. Victory over Petersen, two years older and unbeaten in 23 fights, would put him within reach of the world crown that had been worn with such distinction by Jack Dempsey. In normal circumstances he would have been ecstatic that his big opportunity had arrived and brashly confident that his power of punch would prove too much for anything the more skillful Petersen could produce. Now he was having to ponder near-certain defeat before he had even thrown a punch in anger.
    As before the Pettifer fight, he was bitterly regretting his decision not to pull out. He had got away with it then by virtue of Dan Sullivan's swift intervention and a do-or-die effort in which he had discovered unknown reserves of strength. But a touch of 'flu was nothing compared with the illness he was suffering from now and, short of blasting Petersen to defeat in the opening rounds, he feared that nothing would save him.
    Jack had half considered acquainting the Board of Control doctor with the facts during his routine pre-fight medical, but thought better of it in the light of what might have been printed in the newspapers. Even so, he was amazed the doctor did not suspect anything during an almost cursory examination of his genitals. Now, as he lay waiting for the call to action, he was in a state of acute agitation. A dose of the clap would have been bad enough in any circumstances, but the thought of having to fight possibly 15 championship rounds against a man as fit and formidable as Petersen was alarming.
    A resounding roar went up when he appeared in the arena and began making his way to ringside, his outwardly jaunty demeanour contrasting dramatically with the unrest within. An even mightier cheer rang out as he climbed through the ropes resplendent in a dressing-gown of emerald green, which he removed to reveal a sun-tanned torso. His green satin shorts with white waistband had his initials and a shamrock embroidered in gold on either leg. The green, white and gold of Ireland symbolised what Jack Doyle stood for that night at White City. He was the first native of Eire to challenge for the heavyweight championship of Great Britain - permitted to do so because his country had been under British rule when he was born in 1913, just 19 years and 315 days earlier.
    The spectators packed into the arena craned their necks as he bowed like an actor to the audience and blew kisses to the women at ringside, many of whom he obviously knew. He then engaged those around him, including the MC, in cheerful conversation while awaiting the entry of the champion, who had captured the title a year earlier to the day by knocking out Reggie Meen at Wimbeldon.
    The seconds ticked by, but there was no sign of Petersen. The seconds turned to minutes and still Petersen had not put in an appearance. The agonising delay succeeded in heightening the tension and excitement and the atmosphere was electric as it began to dawn on Jack that he had suffered his first setback before a punch had been thrown. He had been duped by the oldest trick in the boxing book: that of champion cleverly keeping challenger waiting in a bid to unnerve him. The tactic had worked, but surely not in the way Petersen and his father-manager had hoped. Instead of Jack being reduced to a feeble bundle of nerves, the champion's waiting game had served to bring a slight flush to his cheeks. His calm exterior began to give way to a look of anger. Any trepidation he had felt beneath the surface during his theatrical, gladiatorial entrance had been superseded in the interim by a feeling of contempt for Petersen.
    Jack's brown eyes flashed ominously at the Welshman as the referee, Cecil 'Pickles' Douglas, brought them together in the centre of the ring.......'

Many thanks to Michael Taub, author of Jack Doyle: the Gorgeous Gael, for allowing us to reproduce excerpts of his book here. Many thanks also to his publishers Lilliput Press, Dublin.

Michael will be speaking at the Gala Dinner/Birthday Bash on the night of Jack's 100th anniversary of his birthday, as part of the Jack Doyle Centenary Weekend. The weekend events take place from Friday 30th August to Sunday 1st September.

Highlights of the weekend include:

·  A Boxing Tournament on Friday 30th August - organised under the auspices of the IABA Cork County Board. (Tickets available at the Commodore Hotel @ €10)
·  A gala dinner with guest speaker Michael Taub, author of 'Jack Doyle; the Gorgeous Gael.' Music by the 'Contenders' Saturday 31st August. (Tickets available at the Commodore Hotel €34.95)
·  Official opening of the Jack Doyle Mural on Saturday 31st August (pics below) - all welcome to attend.
·  The Jack Doyle Play with actor Luke Barry on Sunday 1st September. (Tickets available at the Commodore Hotel @ €5)
·  Guided Walking Tours and tours on the Cobh Road Train, Historical Workshops, street theatre, classic car displays, commemorative mass & subsequent ceremonies in Cobh's historical Promenade, guided tours of the Old Cemetery where Jack is buried and much more.



Friday, August 23, 2013

Jack Doyle - work in the early days

 
  With Jack 'on the lang' more often than not his schooling did suffer. 'The authorities made several attempts at luring Jack back to school, but having made the break he was determined to resist their efforts. All he was interested in doing now was finding work and proving himself a man. As the eldest son he considered it his duty to provide for his parents a measure of comfort and security after the long, wearying years of struggle that made them old before their time.....After a time he became restless and decided to try his luck on the coal boats that sailed into Cobh. The lure of the waterfront was strong: big money could be earned there by a tough lad with a broad back and a zest for hard work. He became a quay labourer, unloading the coal vessels, and he was delighted to discover he could shift as much coal as men twice his age.
    The boats had to be unloaded in 48 hours or incur a punitive Harbour Board tariff. Eight men at a time worked ceaselessly from six in the morning till seven at night to clear the 350-ton cargos. There was no slacking: if you couldn't do it, you were out. Joe's job was to go down the collier's hold and fill two huge containers, which were then heaved up on a winch and their contents loaded on carts for delivery to the coal yards. It was back-breaking work down in that dark and dusty hold, but the rewards were high: as much as £3 could be earned for two days' work.
    Sister Bridie recalled:

   'Joe would come home worn out, his face, neck, arms and vest covered with soot. He would clean himself up in an old zinc bath in front of the fire and Mum used to scrub his back for him. Most of the money he earned he gave to her - and he also liked to buy her little gifts. I remember his first present was a purse. He was always promising that one day, when he was rich, he would buy her a fur coat.'

    Unfortunately for Joe, work on the coal boats was irregular. With just two shipments a week, there were plenty of men willing and able to bare their backs for the chance of earning a decent wage. Between times, he helped carry the luggage of visiting Americans from the docks to the town's numerous hotels and guest-houses. It was an exercise that earned him healthy sums in tips and afforded the opportunity of making a favourable impression on any attractive young lady who might take his fancy. He would target a family group that included a likely candidate, offer to act as porter and then attempt to engage the object of his desire in conversation as he humped the baggage into town.


    His success rate was high. The friendly and impressionable Yankee girls, invariably a good deal older than himself, were captivated by his freckle-faced good looks, his mop of black curly hair and an original line in blarney that would prove irresistible to women in the years to come. Joe was to consider such relationships a more important, a certainly more enjoyable, aspect of his education than anything he could have learned at school; to him, it was an invaluable part of growing up. Yet though he seemed able to sweet-talk his way into the affections of total strangers, Joe rarely enjoyed similar success with the local girls. They were mostly good Catholics and on their guard against red-blooded youths seeking to prove their manliness.'

Many thanks to Michael Taub, author of Jack Doyle: the Gorgeous Gael, for allowing us to reproduce excerpts of his book here. Many thanks also to his publishers Lilliput Press, Dublin.

Michael will be speaking at the Gala Dinner/Birthday Bash on the night of Jack's 100th anniversary of his birthday, as part of the Jack Doyle Centenary Weekend. The weekend events take place from Friday 30th August to Sunday 1st September.

Highlights of the weekend include:

·  A Boxing Tournament on Friday 30th August - organised under the auspices of the IABA Cork County Board. (Tickets available at the Commodore Hotel @ €10)
·  A gala dinner with guest speaker Michael Taub, author of 'Jack Doyle; the Gorgeous Gael.' Music by the 'Contenders' Saturday 31st August. (Tickets available at the Commodore Hotel €34.95)
·  Official opening of the Jack Doyle Mural on Saturday 31st August (pics below) - all welcome to attend.
·  The Jack Doyle Play with actor Luke Barry on Sunday 1st September. (Tickets available at the Commodore Hotel @ €5)
·  Guided Walking Tours and tours on the Cobh Road Train, Historical Workshops, street theatre, classic car displays, commemorative mass & subsequent ceremonies in Cobh's historical Promenade, guided tours of the Old Cemetery where Jack is buried and much more.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Jack Doyle....'..on the lang!'

   
Cuskinny Bay
'On the lang' is a typical Cork saying to describe purposely skipping school. Jack disliked school intensely and did skip out on numerous occasions. '....Joe (Jack) and his pals would go swimming in the sea at picturesque Cuskinny, just outside town. It was a mud-flat at low tide, necessitating a walk of a couple of hundred yards or so in order to reach the water. This presented a problem for the boys, none of whom possessed bathing trunks; it meant they had to leave their clothes by the shore and walk naked out to sea. One afternoon, when they had finished their swim and were heading back across the mud-flat, they could see in the distance a group of girls who had chanced upon their clothing.
    A member of the gang, Jim Doherty, remembered:

'The girls were standing around waiting for us to return. As we got nearer, we covered our private parts with our hands and the girls started giggling. Joe decided to forget his modesty and have some fun with them. He uncovered his shaft and started waving it around. The girls were so shocked, they ran for their lives'

    Joe's great penchant for exhibitionism, which would become outrageously evident in later life, concealed an almost intense puritanical streak that served to make him an unpredictable, even enigmatic, character. One instance was his professed abhorrence of foul language in the presence of girls; another was the unlikely choice of his Confirmation name, Alphonsus, which he was proud to adopt and then project as his middle name, the suspicion being that it provided an aura intellectualism which acted as cover for his lack of basic education.'

The above excerpt has been taken from Jack's biography Jack Doyle - the Gorgeous Gael by author Michael Taub. Michael, and his publishers, Lilliput Press, have kindly allowed us to reproduce this extract here.

Michael will be speaking at the Gala Dinner/Birthday Bash on the 100th anniversary of Jack's birth on Saturday 31st August at the Commodore Hotel, Cobh. This is part of the Jack Doyle Centenary Weekend taking place in Cobh from Friday 30th August to Sunday 1st September.

Highlights of the weekend include:

·  A Boxing Tournament - organised under the auspices of the County Board.
·  A gala dinner with guest speaker Michael Taub, author of 'Jack Doyle; the Gorgeous Gael.'
·  Official opening of the Jack Doyle Mural (pics attached)
·  Guided Walking Tours, Historical Workshops, street theatre, classic car displays, commemorative mass & subsequent ceremonies in Cobh's historical Promenade, guided tours of the Old Cemetery where Jack is buried and much more.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Jack Doyle - old haunts

Many of Jack Doyle's stomping grounds in his youth in Cobh can still be seen today. Although, the house that Jack grew up in is no longer in existence the Holy Ground is still an area that is lived in. Some of the old tenement houses have been torn down over the years, but others have been lovingly repaired and restored and offer their present owners fabulous vistas of the harbour. It was along this seafront area that Jack grew up and spent most of his formative years....

'....In those distant days, children had to devise their own amusement. One of the most cherished pastimes in the Holy Ground was a game of pitch-and-toss under the gaslamps; another was alleys, a game similar to skittles. The boys would play till late at night and there was great consternation whenever Joe (Jack) cheekily tried to trick them out of their stakes.'

'His favourite haunt in the town was the Soldiers' Home and Sailors' Rest, where his Uncle Joe worked. The chief attraction there was the delicious Chester cakes that were baked on the premises. The cakes were a kind of pudding known as soldier's duff and they made a tasty and filling feed for hungry young bellies. Joe always went in with a halfpenny and asked for some Soldier's Duff, whereupon his uncle - with a wink, a smile and well-practised sleight of hand - would invariably slip three or four huge chunks into a bag for the price of one. Joe could cheerfully have scoffed the lot with his huge appetite, but the cakes were always shared with the rest of the gang, rather in the manner of a general enduring the same hardships as his men when times are tough.' The Soldiers' Home and Sailors' Rest still stands today but now houses a Chinese restaurant; the chances of Chester cake are slim but you could always ask.

'Joe received his education, what little there was of it, from the Presentation Brothers who taught at St. Joseph's school for boys on the outskirts of town (This building is now part of the larger Colaiste Muire complex but can still be visited)....Joe disliked school intensely. He tried his best to be a diligent pupil, but the discipline administered by the Brothers was strict, the lessons dull and the confinement of classroom restrictive. There were other, more exciting things for a robust and energetic boy to do and going 'on the lang' proved an infinitely more attractive proposition. Several times he was threatened with expulsion for absenteeism.....Joe may not have been the most popular boy in town with those in authority, but his standing with his school-mates was of the highest order. To them he was a hero to whom they turned in times of trouble, a match for the bullies who had wronged them....The Holy Ground was no place for the faint-hearted. The boys who lived there spoke tough, acted tough and for the most part were tough. But according to those who were around at the time, none was tougher than big Joe Doyle.'

Many thanks to Michael Taub, author of Jack Doyle - The Gorgeous Gael and his publishers, Lilliput Press, who have kindly allowed us to reproduce excerpts of the book here.

Michael will be speaking at the Gala Dinner celebrating Jack's 100th birthday on Saturday 31st August. Tickets are available at the reception, Commodore Hotel, Cobh (tel. no 00-353-21-4811277; email - commodorehotel@eircom.net)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Jack Doyle - Launch of Jack Doyle Centenary Weekend


The Jack Doyle Centenary Weekend will be held on the last weekend in August to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Jack's birth on 31st August 1913. The following Press Release was launched by the County Cork Boxing Board with actor Luke Barry posing as Jack Doyle.

Highlights of the weekend include:

  • A Boxing Tournament - organised under the auspices of the County Board on Friday 30th August.(Tickets are priced @ €10 and are available at the Commodore Hotel)
  • A gala dinner on Saturday 31st August with guest speaker Michael Taub, author of 'Jack Doyle; the Gorgeous Gael.' (Tickets are available at the Commodore Hotel @ €34.95 - Music by the 'Contenders')
  • Jack Doyle play, with actor Luke Barry, on Sunday 1st September (Tickets at Commodore Hotel @ €5)
  • Official opening of the Jack Doyle Mural (pics below)
  • Guided Walking Tours, Historical Workshops, street theatre, classic car displays, commemorative mass & subsequent ceremonies in Cobh's historical Promenade, guided tours of the Old Cemetery where Jack is buried and much more.


Press Release:

The Gorgeous Gael, Jack Doyle, Boxer, Singer, Movie Star and Legendary Lover

Born 100 years ago on the 31st August, in the small harbour town of Cobh, Jack Doyle went on to become one of the most memorable names in the Irish and International Boxing scene. 
His talented singing voice, movie star good looks & charm took him all the way to Hollywood. But as a lover he will always be remembered for his love affair with Movita or she with him should we say….many a woman paid to be introduced to the handsome devil.

The Gorgeous Gael Gathering, taking place in Cobh from 31st August to the 1st September illustrates the Rags to Riches and sadly return to rags story of Jack Doyle. 
On Friday 30th August the official launch of the festival will take place in the towns Promenade. This will be followed by a boxing tournament, in conjunction with Cork County Board, in the Jack Doyle Room of the Commodore Hotel. A full boxing card of local & provincial boxers will be on display and it is sure to be a fitting event to kick off the celebrations. Tickets are on sale at only €10 from the Commodore Hotel.

Saturday’s events really pack a punch with something for everyone to remember the dark haired hero. There will be the official launch of the Jack Doyle Mural, painted by local artist Jack Hickey. There will also be street theatre, kicked off by ‘Jack’ himself, markets in the local promenade and guided walking tours to the Holy Ground, Jack’s Birthplace, by local historians. 
In addition there will be exhibitions, book signings by Michael Taub, author of the Jack Doyle biography, and guided walks of the Commodore Hotel- a museum to the great man. The day’s events will really illustrate Jack’s impact on the people of Cobh and Ireland during that time and the more than interesting life he lived. Should any member of the public wish to contribute to the exhibition all items will be gratefully returned after the weekend. 
The highlight of the weekend is the Gorgeous Gaels Gala Dinner- Jack’s Birthday Bash with a capital P for Party! Is there any more fitting tribute to Doyle than a three course meal, guest speakers and special guests (incl. Michael Taub and Jack’s nephew Chris Doyle) Of course there will be entertainment provided by local band “The Contenders” and dancing into the early hours. Tickets are available from the Commodore Hotel but they are going fast so book your place today!

Sunday commemorates the life of Jack.  The 12 noon mass in Cobh Cathedral on Sept 1st will commemorate his birth, his life, his career and his death. This will be followed by a procession, lead by the O.N.E. and includes some of the greatest musical talents the town has ever seen.  The first stop will be to Jack’s newest claim to fame, the mural depicting his life. Then on to the Promenade to his long standing monument, loved and cherished by many in the town who remember their families’ stories about the man who was forever champion in their eyes. 
The grand finale to the weekend will take place at 4pm with a new play in the Jack Doyle Room of the Commodore Hotel written by and acted by fellow Cobhite, Luke Barry. Luke has been fascinated by Jack's life and has written and presented several short scripts about his life. A well recognised actor in Cork theatre circles Luke will bring Jack's life back into focus, the good , the bad and the ugly with amazing insight, knowledge and empathy.

The VIP tickets are now on sale, that allow YOU to share in all of these events and much more over the Gorgeous Gael Gathering weekend in Cobh Aug. 30th to Sept. 1st. For just €50 you can be “Ring-Side” for all these events throughout the town. A warm welcome is extended to all his friends and drinking buddies from across the water.

In summary, 100 years ago a talented baby was born to humble parents in a small harbour town. The people of Cobh remember Jack Doyle, the boxer, the actor, the singer and the lover. The Gorgeous Gael is now at peace, at home in Cobh, a town that will never forget him. A man that had it all & lost it all as well! What mere mortals could only dream of was his fate. Though a life of many textures, not always of the colourful kind, the town of Cobh still remembers his name, his achievements and his charm!

 Happy 100th Birthday Jack from your town, your friends and your fans.

Let us know of your stories and memories of Jack and the best could a wonderful prize of an overnight stay for two people with tickets to the Commemoration boxing tournament on Fri. 30th Aug. Please contact the hotel reception at the Commodore Hotel on tel: 021 4811277 for further details.




Saturday, August 17, 2013

Jack Doyle - Battle of the giants

   
In the lead up to the Jack Doyle centenary weekend here's another interesting chapter from Jack's life. The following excerpt from Michael Taub's biography Jack Doyle - The Gorgeous Gael describes Jack's toughest test in the ring after a whirlwind few months as a pro when he demolished all opposition upto that point.....

"There was, of course, a chance that Jack would suffer for his cavalier attitude to training and his sexual indiscretions. He'd have to be in top shape to beat Jack Pettifer of King's Cross - a man even bigger and heavier at 6ft 7in and 17 stones and also unbeaten as a pro.
    The fight had captured the public imagination like none other in recent times. The two men, walking skyscrapers both, had set the boxing world buzzing. Large parties made the crossing from Ireland. There was a big contingent up from Brighton, where Pettifer had completed his training. Sydney Hulls, the promoter, claimed he could have sold each seat twice over. He wasn't exaggerating. Newspapers estimated the attendance to be in excess of 20,000 - a capacity 12,000 crammed inside the centre transept of the glass-domed arena and almost as many again locked outside. Cars jammed the approach roads to the stadium. Police sent for reinforcements in an attempt to control the crowds.
    Women were prominent among the fans - office and factory girls, housewives who had talked husbands into taking them along, wealthy society types draped in furs and dripping with jewellery. No longer was boxing solely a male preserve: Irish Jack Doyle had opened the floodgates to a new and enquiring audience. London was not the only city gripped by big-fight fever. Jack's native Cork also teemed with activity. Thousands packed the square outside the Cork Examiner offices waiting for the result to come through. A green light was to be shown if he won, a red light if he lost.
    Inside the Crystal Palace dressing-room, Jack was suffering from a more literal fever. He had felt unwell at Windsor on the eve of the fight. A doctor summoned urgently by Sullivan diagnosed 'flu symptoms. You can catch a nasty chill lying on a bed with no clothes on.
    He was advised not to box, but it was unthinkable: the 'boys' had made the journey and he could not disappoint them. Now, with the bout only minutes away, he was doubting the wisdom of that decision. He faced the biggest challenge of his sporting life - both in terms of Pettifer's size and the importance of the contest - but felt lousy and drowsy. Dosed up with medication, he was barely able to summon the will or energy to go out and fight.
    A roar of expectancy greeted him as he made his way to ringside. Normally the ear-splitting din acted on him like a battle hymn; this time it might as well have been a funeral dirge. It was not the thought of defeat which bothered him now, catastrophic though that would be. It was more the sense of shame he would feel if unable to make a fight of it.
    That seemed to be the way of things in the first round. Dazzled by Pettifer's skills, he was punched all round the ring. He took such a hammering that he was in real danger of being knocked out. It was the very outcome he had been dreading, but he was unable to do anything about it. His limbs were heavy and lifeless; he was too weak to call the shots. Only through a combination of Irish heart and magnificent bodily strength did he manage to survive.
    Pettifer was cool and confident. He strutted back to his corner to be told by jubilant handlers that he was heading for the greatest triumph of his career. Jack could only stagger back to his corner, eyes glazed, for a much-needed respite. Drastic action was called for and fortunately for him Dan Sullivan was a manager who did not mind bending the rules when disaster threatened. The alternative was to see his big-money dreams go up along with the cigar-smoke that permeated the ringside. With all the guile of a magician conjuring a rabbit from a top hat, he produced a small flask of brandy from the pocket of his white corner-man's coat and, under cover of the water-bottle, tipped a generous quantity down Jack's throat. Its effect was immediate.
    The dramatic second round provoked some purple prose from London Evening Standard fight reporter Ben Bennison:

    'The bell sounded for the resumption of hostilities and the buzzing audience was suddenly hushed into an eerie silence.
    Then, to a shout of delight from the crowd, Doyle sprang to his feet as if restored to life by black magic. "Wait!" bawled Sullivan, who had forgotten to replace his gumshield, but, unheeding, Doyle rushed at his surprised opponent, who was slow to leave his stool, like a man possessed.
    Pettifer was taken by storm. Crash, bang did Doyle send his thudding fists into the neighbourhood of his jaw to rock him and cause him to clinch.
    Poor Pettifer, a hurricane now raged against him as Doyle forced his huge frame against the ropes. He tried in vain to hold off the Irishman by means of his left hand or by erecting a guard with his right in an attempt to nullify the full weight of the punches that were being rained upon him.
    A fighting monster now was Doyle, his teeth clenched and his eyes awesome in the viciousness they portrayed. The crowd was on its feet and the noise deafening as he smashed to smithereens the last semblance of defence Pettifer was able to offer.
    Then, with a left and a right, he dropped his man to land him almost in the auditorium. There Pettifer lay, his eyes staring at the roof, the last ounce of his fighting power beaten out of him.'

     There was bedlam in the huge arena. The fans were wild, quite unable to believe the unexpected turn-round in fortunes. They had been elevated to a pitch of uncontrollable excitement by the transformation of Jack Doyle from battered and beaten fighter in the first round to cold-eyed killer in the second. The women in the audience - 'Many were crying with joy' - had been caught up in the emotion of it all. they barred his path back to the dressing-room. Some tossed flowers. Others attempted to reach out and touch him. Those close enough to pierce his cordon of police and handlers threw their arms round him and kissed him. Several hung around afterwards waiting for him to emerge, most wanting autographs, some desiring a more tangible token of remembrance.
    But Jack for once was in no mood for the company of adoring females. He spent the night alone in a Turkish baths."

Excerpts courtesy of author Michael Taub and publishers Lilliput Press, Dublin.

Michael will be attending the centenary and will be speaking at the Gala Dinner/Birthday Bash on Saturday 31st August. Michael will also be doing a number of book signings over the course of the weekend.

This should be a great weekend and is eagerly awaited. Full details of what's happening will follow shortly....watch this space!!!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Jack Doyle - The Holy Ground

Jack Doyle Memorial at the Holy Ground
The countdown to the Jack Doyle centenary is underway with just over two weeks to go. In setting the scene author Michael Taub and Lilliput Press have kindly allowed us to reproduce some excerpts from the biography Jack Doyle - The Gorgeous Gael.

The following extract describes Jack's return to Cobh and more particularly his birthplace, the 'Holy Ground,' not long after his meteoric rise to fame....

"He was almost too young to be a hero, this boy of 19 whom fame had beckoned. Even heroes are allowed to catch their breath, and he had not quite counted on the whole harbour town of Cobh turning out to greet him. Nor had he imagined that a pipe-band would be waiting to parade him along the waterfront and out to the Holy Ground, where he was born. He was shaken by the magnitude of the welcome as he waved to the hundreds who lined the route, many of them hanging from upstairs windows. All were anxious to catch a glimpse of the handsome buachaill who had grown up in their midst and whose fighting deeds had given them cause for rejoicing. He was their local boy made good, their chieftain returning from glorious battle.
   His brother Bill, then 15, recalled:

View from the sea wall
'He jumped up on the sea wall and made an impromptu speech: "My next aim is Jack Petersen and the British title. Then I'll be after Larry Gains and the Empire title. And after that it will be full speed ahead to the championship of the world." A mighty roar went up and someone asked him to give them a song. He sang Mother Machree just for Mum and you could have heard a pin drop. People were crying, so beautifully did he sing it. Afterwards they shouted things like, "We love you Joe. We're proud of you." He had them all in the palm of his hand and he knew it. He was a majestic figure.'

Jack Doyle sparring in the ring
   Sadly for 'Joe' it could only be a fleeting visit. Brigadier-General Critchley had wasted no time in arranging his next contest. It was to be at the Royal Albert Hall in just three weeks' time and, against a Frenchman whose name he could not even pronounce. He had not wanted to fight again so quickly. Already he'd had eight bouts in his first six months as a professional boxer and he needed a break. He would have preferred a little time to savour his success - to get the feel of being famous. But he had no option other than to go through with the contest, if only to appease his new master. The Brigadier had a reputation for being as prickly as the thin moustache that lined his upper lip.
   Before heading back to London, he decided to steal a few days to renew old friendships. He would step back from the present and remind himself how life had been just a few short years earlier, before his sudden rise to fame."

Michael Taub will be attending the centenary and will be speaking at the Gala Dinner/Birthday Bash on Saturday 31st August. Michael will also be doing a number of book signings over the course of the weekend.

This should be a great weekend and is eagerly awaited. Full details of what's happening will follow shortly....watch this space!!!

Jack Doyle - The Gorgeous Gael

Courtesy of Michael Taub and The Lilliput Press, Dublin

One of the highlights of the Jack Doyle centenary weekend will be the talk given by Michael Taub, author of 'Jack Doyle - The Gorgeous Gael,' a biography on the life and times of Cobh's famous son.

The weekend will be part of the gathering, and will be held on the last weekend in August coinciding with the centenary of Jack's birth on the 31st August. This mini-festival will feature a Boxing Tournament, a Gala Dinner/Birthday Bash with guest speaker, Michael Taub, workshops, film screenings, street theatre, markets, classic car displays and commemorative ceremonies.

To give you a snapshot of Jack Doyle's life, Michael Taub has kindly allowed us to reproduce the book's synopsis here....

"JACK DOYLE (1913-1978) was a 6ft 5in Irishman with a giant appetite for life. In 1933 this son of Cobh drew 90,000 to London’s White City to see him fight and was making £600 a week on stage as a singer. He was nineteen. By the age of thirty he had earned and squandered a £250,000 fortune (worth millions today). His motto was, ‘A generous man never went to hell’ and he lived his life like a hellraiser. In his heyday as a heavyweight boxer, singer and playboy, his celebrity rivalled that of the Prince of Wales, and he and his wife – the beautiful Mexican film star and singer Movita, who later married Marlon Brando – were as popular in the thirties as Olivier and Leigh and Burton and Taylor.

Michael Taub’s remarkable biography rescues a glittering period of social and boxing history from obscurity and restores Jack and Movita to their rightful place in the showbiz and sporting pantheon. Jack’s ring presence and personality reached back to the days of the Regency Buck. His friendships with the Royal family, his fist fight with Clark Gable, his life as a film star and gigolo, his throwing of a fight by knocking himself out, and his extraordinary post-war career as an all-in wrestler, are the stuff of legend confirmed here by seven years’ exhaustive research, during which Taub tracked down and interviewed the leading players in Jack’s life."

Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the Commodore Hotel during the Jack Doyle Centenary Gathering from Friday, 30 August-Sunday, 1 September.

Courtesy of Michael Taub- Author of the 'Jack Doyle The Gorgeous Gael' (Biography) and Publishers, The Lilliput Press, Dublin.


Watch this space for further excerpts