Wednesday 13 December 2017

Village in shock at death of 'everybody's friend'

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

THE set of TV series 'Ballykissangel' was hushed by a real-life drama.

But this wasn't part of a BBC script -- it was a human tragedy involving one of the village's own.

Brian 'Brier' Doyle (48) was as well known in Avoca, Co Wicklow, as Fr Peter Clifford or Assumpta Fitzgerald were in 'Ballykissangel'.

As a young boy, he made his name on the hurling pitch where his small frame allowed him to weave through the opposition's defence.

He played a key role in Avoca's success in winning several county championships.

Through the years, Brian became known as "everybody's friend". Villagers saw him as a timid, small man and "never a fighter".

His life was not without sadness. His parents died some years ago and he was left devastated by the death of his brother, Owen, in 2008.

Owen 'The Boss' Doyle was a bachelor in his 50s who was found dead in a ditch close to the local primary school. He died from natural causes.

Brian, a single man, died nearby, on the pavement outside Fitzgerald's pub in Avoca.

It's a popular spot where bus loads of American tourists regularly stop to see the drinking hole of 'Ballykissangel'.

By 6.30pm on Sunday, the tourists had left and only locals were inside the pub.

Brian, who was unemployed, was in "great form" when he joined his friends in Fitzgerald's for a few pints of Bavaria.

His best friend, John Kinsella, described him as a "proper gentleman".

"Honestly, I am devastated. He was having a drink with his friends, everybody was Brier's friend."

Gardai believe Brian was punched in the head after he went outside Fitzgerald's for a smoke shortly before 9pm.

However, forensic collision investigators also combed the postcard village for clues as to whether he was knocked down by a car following the assault.

A handprint and a dent were visible in the bonnet of a Volkswagen Caddy van.

"I don't know how he died. I was just in (The Meetings pub) last night when it happened.

"I had been in Fitzgerald's but left it a half an hour before that.

"There wasn't a bother on him when I left."

John added: "I can't believe it. He wasn't a fighting man. He was a small, little man. He was very timid."

Speculation was rife in Avoca that Brian had been run over, John said.

"I couldn't see anybody in the pub hitting him. He wasn't that sort of chap."

The tiny community has been hit by tragedy before. In 2003, close to the same spot, two teenage school friends were killed in a horrific collision.

Stephanie McCauley (15) and Vanessa Byrne (13) died on their way home after buying sweets from the shop.

They were struck by a tractor and trailer carrying bales of hay.

Irish Independent

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