Concerns over famed Cork boxers alleged links to domestic violence raised as statue proposal tabled

Gorgeous Gael, Jack Doyle, after another win in the ring

By Sean O'Riordan

Fresh moves to erect a commemorative statue to one of the country's most famed boxers have hit a brick wall.

Earlier this year, Cork County Council officials rejected proposals for a town centre sculpture in Cobh to remember the harbour town's most famous son.

The council advised the location was "inappropriate" due to a number of other sculptures but women's groups had also indicated they would object on the grounds Doyle had been physically abusive to women.

Known as the 'Gorgeous Gael', Doyle, born in 1913, was also a crooner and one-time Hollywood film star who was a hard drinker and well-known womaniser.

But, despite his celebrity and the money that flowed with it, Doyle ended up a pitiful drunk, dying penniless in London in 1978. Friends in Cork had fundraised to bring his body home and he was buried in Cobh.

Yesterday, a fresh proposal was put before Cobh-Glanmire municipal district council to erect a seating-type sculpture to Doyle at the town's Promenade.

Cllr Diarmaid Ó’Cadhla made the proposal on behalf of a Jack Doyle committee of which he is a member.

But a number of councillors expressed concerns: “I'm uncomfortable with this project,” said Cllr Keohane, who had worked with a group offering counselling to both women and men who were victims of domestic violence.

Cllr Keohane said the allegations of Doyle's alleged violence against women were in the public realm.

“The question is: are we doing the right thing? Are we opening wounds for people who are victims of domestic violence? I'm not saying these allegations are founded or unfounded, but we need to have a discussion about it. I'm expressing people's opinions."

But Cllr Ó’Cadhla, stating the accusations were unfounded, said: “People should be sensitive when family members are still alive. It's caused upset in the Doyle family.”

However, the matter was deferred until costings were provided and council executive staff considered the proposed location.

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