Cobh to get sculpture of ‘Gorgeous Gael’ Jack Doyle

A new sculpture to be installed in a Cork harbourside town has the potential to become one of the most photographed in Ireland — because of its design.

Cobh to get sculpture of ‘Gorgeous Gael’ Jack Doyle

That’s the feeling of councillors as they await the erection in Cobh of the sculpture representing its most famous son — boxer, Hollywood actor and sometime crooner Jack Doyle.

Cork County Council is to start the planning process for the bronze sculpture at Pearse Square, on the open area outside the BMC shop.

The sculpture displays Doyle seated on a stool, in the corner of what might be a boxing ring, gloves on hands and right arm outstretched on ropes.

A second stool will facilitate people sitting beside Jack — allowing them to be photographed with the man nicknamed ‘The Gorgeous Gael’.

Cllr Diarmaid Ó Cadhla, who is part of a committee formed last year to honour Doyle, said the sculpture will also feature a travel suitcase, with travel labels on it for London and Hollywood, reflecting different aspects of Jack’s life.

“The sculpture will be disability friendly, allowing wheelchair access.

“Multimedia presentations will be accessible to illustrate different aspects of Jack Doyle’s life, in boxing, the movies and as a world-class tenor/singer — the story of Jack’s life, since he was a boy in Cobh, will be accessible,” Cllr Ó Cadhla said.

He suggested that Jack Doyle’s memory could be kept alive with other events.

“Further development might include a Jack Doyle Festival Day in Cobh, featuring the wearing of carnations, singing, boxing, cinema, etc, and possibly fundraising for a youth boxing club, or some other facilities for young people in the area,” Cllr Ó Cadhla added.

Doyle was born in Cobh in 1913. In 1929 he joined the Irish Guards regiment of the British army based in Wales where he excelled at boxing.

Four years later he narrowly lost out on the British heavyweight title.

Shortly after his singing voice was discovered by Vincent O’Brien, voice coach to Count John McCormack and soon his soft tenor voice and handsome looks were selling out the London Palladium and the Royal in Dublin. Doyle was subsequently signed up by Decca.

Later he went to America and starred in two Hollywood movies — McGlusky the Sea Rover (1934) and Navy Spy (1937) and ended up marrying the legendary actress Movita Castaneda.

He died penniless in Paddington, London, in December 1978 and Cork boxers raised money to bring his body home.

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