New Ross will celebrate the life of local hero Company Sergeant Major Martin Doyle, who was awarded the Victoria Cross while serving with The Royal Munster Fusiliers in France during World War 1, with a parade through the town and the unveiling of a memorial at The Tholsel, New Ross, next Sunday.
At 1.15 pm a parade of approximately 150 retired military personnel will begin at Maher’s Yard public car park and march along South Street to the Tholsel where an ecumenical service will take place at 2 pm and his commemorative VC stone will be unveiled. Both the British Defence attaché and Charge D’Affaires will attend.
Martin Doyle was born on October 25th, 1894 (although the Register of VC shows his date of birth as 1891), one of a family of six sisters living at Gusserane, New Ross, with their parents, Larry and Brigid.
When he was only 15 years of age (though he claimed to be 17 at the time) Martin travelled to nearby Kilkenny where he joined the 18th (Royal Irish) Regiment and left to serve in India. He returned to Ireland at the outbreak of WW1 and in December of that year embarked for France with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, serving through the Battle of Mons where he was one of the lucky ones to survive. Rising through the ranks to Company Sergeant Major, Doyle transferred to the 1st Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers and was awarded the Military Medal on March 24th 1918.
Martin Doyle was awarded the Victoria Cross for his war heroics, Britain’s premier award for gallantry and courage, and was summoned to Buckingham Palace on May 8th 1919 to receive his medals. On his return to New Ross, he was given a hero’s welcome by the townspeople,
He left the army in July 1919 and embarked on a new career, when he joined the I.R.A. as anintelligence officer in the Mid-Clare Brigade, Doyle served throughout 1920 and 1921 in Ennis, stationed at the Home Barracks of the British Garrison there. Doyle was to serve in Waterford, South Tipperary and Kilkenny, and in February 1924 he served in his hometown of New Ross.
In May 1924, Doyle re-enlisted into the peacetime army and joined the 20th Infantry Bn as a Company Sergeant of “D” Coy. Over the next 13 years C.S. Doyle divided his time between the 20th Bn (re-designated 7th Bn in 1927) and finally 2nd Bn (1930) and the School of Instruction.
Having spent nine years and five months in British Army service, fifteen years and five months in Irish Army regular service and a year and a half on the reserve Coy Sgt Martin Doyle finally hung up his uniform on January 25th 1939. He was not destined to enjoy a long retirement, however, as he died in Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital, Dublin on November 20th 1940, aged just 46. This great but little remembered Irish soldier rests in peace in Grangegorman British military burial place, off Blackhorse Ave., near McKee Barracks, Dublin, under a headstone erected by his old comrades in the regiment.
The unveiling of the VC Stone will take place at The Tholsel by Cllr John Fleming, Chairman of New Ross Municipal District Council, who will also participate in a welcome address with Cllr Michael Sheehan, Chairman of Wexford County Council and an ecumenical service will be conducted by Monsignor Joseph McGrath and Rev. Ian Cruickshank.
Wreaths will be laid by Cllr John Fleming, Chairman New Ross Municipal District Council, Cllr Michael Sheehan, Chairman Wexford County Council, The British Embassy, The Doyle family, The Royal Munster Fusiliers’ Association, The Organisation of National Ex-Servicemen and Women, and the Irish United Nations Veterans Association. New Ross Pipe Band (incidentally two members Richard O’Neill and Matt Ryan are descendants of Martin Doyle) will play lament; Anthony Nolan will sound The Last Post and Reveille and the ceremony will concluded with Amhrán na bhFiann.