Friendly, selfless and with a roguish smile, Gerry Doyle from Aughrim was a “true gentleman” who could put his hand to anything. Whether you were raising funds for a new set of jerseys, wanted help digging a drainage ditch or just needed an arm around your shoulder – Gerry’s kind heart and warm character were only ever a call away.
Born in 1947, Gerry and his nine siblings – TJ, Sean, Rita, Betty, Doreen, Shiela, Noel, Joe and Tat – were raised in the picturesque townland of Moneyteigue, just south of Aughrim village. An industrious and ambitious young lad, Gerry spent many of his formative years working as a hand on the famous Grange Farm in Newcastle.
As he moved out of his teens and into his twenties, Gerry was bitten by the love bug in the most unusual of places. As Gerry’s children only recently learned, their silver tongued dad met the love of his life, Ann, at a funeral of a mutual acquaintance in the graveyard at Ballycoog. Talk about putting the fun back in funerals!
Falling deeply in love, the smitten pair were married in 1969, in the Church of St Patrick in Barraniskey, and became utterly inseparable thereafter. They went everywhere together, going on holidays to sun-kissed locations like Bulgaria and Tenerife whenever they could find the time.
Ann only had eyes for Gerry, and Gerry, well… everyone knew about the other lady in his life. She may have weighed over five tonnes and had a huge rear end, but big-hearted Gerry loved her all the same.
You see, Gerry was, as his son Ger described “beyond obsessed” with his Ford 555 digger. If there was a hole that needed filling or digging in Wicklow Gerry was your man. He worked as a plant hire for the majority of his adult life, travelling all over the Garden County and beyond in his trusty Ford.
“There wasn’t a farmer in Wicklow that he didn’t give a dig out to at some stage or another,” Gerry’s son Ger joked. “He was so well well-known all over Wicklow through his work. He’d go that extra mile to help you, no matter how much it inconvenienced him. He even drove as far as Howth and back on one occasion!
“As a father, he was the best you could ask for. He just had this thing in him where he wanted to help you fix your problem, no matter what that might have been. Whether it was oil changes or mechanical issues, if you were ever stuck in a jam, one phone call to dad would usually sort it.
“Even if he wasn’t sure what to do straight away, he’d just say to you calmly: ‘Okay, I’m not sure what we’re going to do to fix it, but we’ll figure it out and get it done’.
“I remember years and years ago, maybe as long as 20 years ago, I was just out of college and I was in my first job at Carrickmacross in Monaghan,” Ger continued. “Every Friday, without fail, dad used to take the three hour trip to collect me, bring me home, then do the round trip again the following Sunday – just because he didn’t want me to have the hassle of getting the bus.
“That’s the kind of selfless, practical man my dad was. He brought that altruistic attitude to everything he did in life, whether that was helping his friends and family out of a bind, or supporting his beloved Annacurra.”
An honorary member of Annacurra GAA, Gerry was heavily involved in all facets of the club. As former club Chairman Declan Finn put it: “Players in Annacurra GAA for years to come have Gerry Doyle to thank for what great facilities we have. He was the backbone behind Junior teams that brought glory to the club.”
As a selector, Gerry championed the club’s Junior team for years, keeping the group together through thick and thin and eventually leading them to silverware. Their crowning achievement came in 2005 when, with the help of Michael Byrne and his good friend Tony Doyle, the trio drove the team on to win the Junior C Championship.
“Gerry was an outstanding man for everything, especially the lotto,” Tony joked. “He took the books, left them in the shops and basically kept that lotto going single-handedly for a good 10 or 15 years. That money kept the club going, in a very real sense.”
“As well as the Junior team, Gerry would’ve done selecting duties with the intermediate Seniors. His children would’ve played for the club over the years too, so the whole family really gave their all for Annacurra. It was because of that commitment that Gerry was recognised at the dinner dance we had last year, where he was rightfully named ‘Club Person of the Year’. Honestly, they could’ve given him ‘Club Person of the Century’!
“As a friend, Gerry was always just so warm and welcoming. Just a cheery fella. He was so well-thought of at the club, it was very hard for us to say goodbye. We felt absolutely privileged to give him the send off he deserved at the funeral, with the guard of honour. They just don’t make them like Gerry any more.”
The Doyle family were said to have been completely overwhelmed by the huge crowd that turned out for Gerry’s funeral at St. Kevin’s Church in Ballycoog last month. With the church packed to the rafters, the massive congregation of mourners stood as a testament to the lasting impact Gerry had on so many lives.
“It was all a bit of blur on the day,” Ger Doyle recalled. “I have to say that the local community – our friends, relatives and our neighbours – were so good to us in the lead up to and on the day of the funeral. It really showed us how much dad meant to them all.
“Family and friends meant everything to dad. After he got diagnosed last February, he had operations and treatment, and was prepared to do anything it took to stay with us. He was a real fighter, and he wanted to stay with us so very badly.
“Even in his very last days, you could see that he was still trying to fight. Even though he was sick and in pain, he never complained about it. You knew he was doing that for your benefit, just so you wouldn’t worry about him – that’s the kind of strong man he was.
“We’ll probably only appreciate it more and more as time goes on, but we’re so thankful that dad got to have Christmas at home,” Ger added. “He had spent time in hospital, but wanted so so badly to come home.
“Thankfully, he was able to, about two weeks before Christmas. He was just so elated to be back home, where he was surrounded by his grandchildren (who he absolutely adored) throughout the holiday period. We spread the celebrations out over a few different nights, because we don’t have the capacity, but with 23 grandchildren and six great grandchildren, suffice to say, the house was never quiet! We will always have those memories of him with the children.
“On behalf of the family I’d just like to thank everyone who has helped us throughout – you made a terrible time in our lives a little bit easier. From Paul Byrne and the undertakers in Aughrim to all our family, friends and neighbours, thank you.”
Brother to TJ, Sean, Rita, Betty, Doreen, Shiela, Noel, Joe and Tat, husband to wife Ann, father to Mag, Barry, Colette, P, Vinny, Alan, Ger, Ciaran and Jamie, grandparent and great grandparent to many. Gerry Doyle was laid to rest in Ballycoog Graveyard on Monday, January 17, 2023.
May he rest in peace.