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Bob Doyle: 12th February 1916 - 22nd January 2009: 'An Unusual Communist'

category international | miscellaneous | feature author Friday January 23, 2009 23:37author by anarchaeologist Report this post to the editors

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Bob Doyle

The death has occurred in London of Bob Doyle, the last surviving Irish soldier of the XV International Brigade of the Spanish Republican Army. Bob, whose health had been failing for some time had survived a recent double heart attack, before passing peacefully last night surrounded by his family. He was a few weeks short of his 93rd birthday.

Bob's career as an political activist has been recorded in his book Brigadista, which recounted his early life in Dublin as a Republican volunteer and later as a member of the Republican Congress, prior to his abortive first attempt to fight against Franco in July 1937, which saw him stow away on a ship to Valencia.

On his return to London (which he was to make his home for the remainder of his life) Bob contacted the CP and arrived in Spain by the more usual route, walking over the Pyrenees in a group of 15 volunteers, including the writer Laurie Lee. Bob was given basic military training and promoted quickly due to his aptitude and experience. Assigned to a training base behind the lines, Bob disobeyed orders and left with a detachment of British volunteers to take part in the second battle of Belchite in February 1938. He was captured at Calaciete with Frank Ryan and survived the concentration camp of San Pedro, before being released in a prisoner exchange in February 1939.

Bob joined the merchant navy on the outbreak of the second world war, where he received a medical discharge for an ulcer. He spent the remainder of the war as a firewatcher on the roof of the CP offices in central London.

He threw himself into political activity after the war and was one of the Communist leaders of a major printworkers' strike in 1959 and the fight for a 40 hour week. Bob was also undertaking more dangerous work, frequently travelling to Franco's Spain helping to organise the underground unions there.

Bob was an unusual Communist. This writer first encountered him in London during a Poll Tax demonstration, dressed in a top hat and tails. Bob was to be seen on many demonstrations in London throughout this period for a variety of causes and was not shy of confrontation with the bosses or the police. Bob was also a firm advocate of the legalisation of cannabis and was an enthusiastic grower of the herb in his north London greenhouse.

Bob Doyles last Interview from DCTV on Vimeo.

More recently, Bob has been in involved with Spanish Civil War commemorations both here in Ireland and in Spain and he was due to accept honorary Spanish citizenship in the coming months. He hadn't taken up an offer extended several years ago from the Zapatero government as it would have required giving up his Irish citizenship in exchange. Under a new law, however, non-Spaniards are entitled to retain their original citizenship.

Bob attended his last commemoration at Jarama last February where he delivered a a speech fired with passion and anger attacking global capital and the hold it still has on the world.

Bob's funeral arrangements are to be announced next week.

No Pasarán

'I am here to make you boil with anger; the powers that supported Franco in Spain are still active, and today their reach is global': Report on Speech by Bob Doyle - September 2006

Some History of Irish Involvement in the International Brigades is Here.
Previous Indymedia Obituary of International Brigades Veteran James Maley.
Homage to an Anti-Fascist: Michael O'Riordan RIP.
Indymedia Article Marking 70th Anniversary of the Connolly Column

NOTE: Indymedia Ireland invite those with memories of, or reminiscences about, Bob Doyle to use this page as a virtual tribute. We will endeavour to, after a period, print the page out and present it to his family.

Bob Doyle in Madrid last year
Bob Doyle in Madrid last year

 #   Title   Author   Date 
   Death of last Irish member of the International Brigade     Eugene Mc Cartan    Fri Jan 23, 2009 14:53 
   RIP     pat c    Fri Jan 23, 2009 15:18 
   Video of Last interview in Ireland     Dublin Community Television    Fri Jan 23, 2009 15:21 
   Farewell Bob Doyle     pat c    Fri Jan 23, 2009 15:37 
   RIP     DM    Fri Jan 23, 2009 16:00 
   In memory of Bob Doyle: "No Pasaran!"     dunk    Fri Jan 23, 2009 16:10 
   iNo Pasarán!     kbranno    Fri Jan 23, 2009 16:40 
   Adelante!     Gearóid Ó Machail    Fri Jan 23, 2009 17:33 
   RIP     Celia S    Fri Jan 23, 2009 18:14 
 10   Belfast monument unveiling     Ciarán Ó Brolcháin    Fri Jan 23, 2009 20:35 
 11   Viva La Quinte Brigada     John    Fri Jan 23, 2009 21:21 
 12   No Pasaran!     C    Fri Jan 23, 2009 21:38 
 13   Belfast     formal    Sat Jan 24, 2009 00:39 
 14   They Shall Not Pass!     Ronan DKP    Sat Jan 24, 2009 13:55 
 15   A different breed     John    Sat Jan 24, 2009 15:16 
 16   Daily Ireland interview     Republican    Sat Jan 24, 2009 15:56 
 17   R.I.P     francis hughes    Sat Jan 24, 2009 17:06 
 18   Bob Doyles Final interview     seedot    Sat Jan 24, 2009 21:06 
 19   We all need to learn from Bob     Ciaran Crossey    Sat Jan 24, 2009 21:43 
 20   Recorded 6th November 2006     Dublin Community Television    Sun Jan 25, 2009 11:03 
 21   Tribute to Bob Doyle     Lynda & Ernest Walker    Sun Jan 25, 2009 14:50 
 22   Bob Doyle     maureen shiels fanning    Sun Jan 25, 2009 22:03 
 23   A great Irishman and a true hero. RIP     Will    Sun Jan 25, 2009 23:49 
 24   Bob doyle RIP     CROPPYBHOY    Mon Jan 26, 2009 00:18 
 25   Tribute     Con Carroll    Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:43 
 26   Salud to Bob Doyle     Maggie Bruton    Mon Jan 26, 2009 18:58 
 27   Question     Solidarity    Tue Jan 27, 2009 14:40 
 28   Bob's arrangements     anarchaeologist    Tue Jan 27, 2009 20:08 
 29   "An unorthodox Communist"     Observer    Wed Jan 28, 2009 11:54 
 30   colourful deeds     Werner Black    Sun Feb 01, 2009 08:12 
 31   Bob was a gentleman     Political activist    Mon Feb 02, 2009 16:53 
 32   Salud Companero     Conor McGuinness    Mon Feb 02, 2009 20:00 
 33   Bob Doyle     Stiofán Ó Nualláin    Mon Feb 09, 2009 14:31 
 34   Safe In The ARMS Of God     Michael    Mon Feb 09, 2009 20:41 
 35   Desde España no te olvidaremos     Francesc Juan    Wed Apr 01, 2009 22:48 

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