Thomas Dooley a champion of the people
In 26th June 1923 the people of Roscrea presented Thomas Dooley with a Wolseley car for his contribution to the town over thirty years. Mr Dooley as clerk of Roscrea Union campaigned for the end to the impoverished areas of the town and to have the old houses in Limerick St, Railway view and Alleys lane demolished and new ones erected. When these houses were finished the tenants took them over and at the time were charged the lowest rent in Ireland.
He was also one of the founders and was Director of Roscrea Bacon factory from 1906 to 1930 and was President from 1911 to 1930. During his time as Clerk of the Union (the equivalent today would be town clerk) He fought to have a water scheme provided so as the people of the town would have clean running water. He was involved in bringing electric lighting to the town which was one of the first towns in the country to have electric street lighting as opposed to gas. He fought for proper sanitation facilities so as people could live in a healthier environment free from many of the diseases that would have been rampant at the time.
At the presentation there were many fine tributes to Mr Dooley, Cannon Cunningham in his speech said “You have spent your life working for the needy and suffering of Roscrea and have brought about the abolition of slums and built new housing for the poor and needy”. Mr Dwyer a local solicitor said “You have transformed Roscrea into a model town for the midlands, a centre of bustle, brightness and industry.
The picture shows Thomas Dooley seated in the Wolsley. Others in the picture are ( in no particular order) are Cannon Cunningham, Rev J England Methodist church, Count O Byrne Corville House, JW Weaks manager of Bank of Ireland, Sean O Broin district registrar, W Dwyer Solicitor, Cpt P Wall, John Maher, Wm Treanor, Martin Maher and ? Moynan.
Thomas was born in 1863 in King's County and was married on 24 August 1887 to Susan Eleanor Acres, also born 1887. At that time he was living at Beech Walk, Roscrea. His father, also Thomas Dooley, was the retired Master of the Union Workhouse. They were married in the Methodist church. In 1880, before his marriage, he was the Clerk and Returning Officer of Roscrea Poor Law Union and also the District Registrar of Marriages and Executive Sanitary Officer. In 1901 they were living in Drumakeenan with 2 nephews and a niece but they don't appear to have had any children themselves. In 1911 they were living with the same niece at the Castleholding in Roscrea in a large 14-
His wife was the daughter of George William Acres who was the Postmaster and Clerk of the Petty Sessions in Roscrea in 1889. He also appears to have had a drapers shop in Main Street and another daughter, Harriet, had a dressmakers business in Main Street. Susan died at Ard Erin, Roscrea after being shot on 17th August 1923. I have come across references to Thomas Dooley in some of the IRA witness statements put online by the Bureau of Military Intelligence -
Suzan Dooley shot
On August 19th about eight weeks after Thomas Dooley was presented with the car he and his wife Susan along with Robert Acres (Susan’s sister) who was postmaster in Roscrea and Mr F Traynor took a trip to Dublin. Mr Traynor was sitting in the front and Mr Acres and Mrs Dooley were sitting ti the back when at about 11.30 PM they were stopped by an Army patrol as they came around the bend at the railway bridge where the golf club is outside Roscrea. There were three soldiers with rifles at the ready and one with a revolver. According to Mr Dooley they pulled up beside the patrol and one soldier put his head through the window and then said “alright go on”.
The car moved forward and was only gone a few feet when four shots rang out in quick succession. Mrs Dooley fell across into her brother’s arms and, he thought that she had fainted but soon realised that she had been shot. The soldier who had put his head through the window came up to the car and asked why they had not stopped when he called halt. Mr Dooley said “This is no time to argue there is a precious life in the car and I had to go for medical assistance. I jumped into the car and cleared whether they liked it or not, there were no more shots fired”. He drove home and got Mrs Dooley upstairs and sent for Doctor Wallace but she died about two hours afterwards.
Captain Wall of Roscrea barracks had detailed Sergeant Carroll and volunteers Cullerton and Sullivan to take a bicycle patrol out to that area. Carroll in his statement said that he had called on the car to halt five or six times. As the car passed he saw someone wave from the car and shout “goodbye”. He fired one shot in the air as a warning and when the car did not stop he proceeded to fire into it. At this his two men fired their rifles as well.
In September of that year there was a full military enquiry into the incident. Mr Dooley, Trayner and Acres refused to attend the enquiry after the army counsel refused to allow the public or the press to attend the army said that it was contrary to regulations to admit the press. The outcome of this inquiry or if it went ahead is unknown.