John Doyle Gets Some Greystones Gratitude

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Emotions ran high down at the harbour one sunny Sunday afternoon in August 2013, as a plaque was unveiled for the late, clearly very great John Doyle.

The Greystones man who was given the Scott Medal by the Royal Humane Society was now having his hometown tribute.

The medal was awarded for John’s saving three lives after a boat began sinking off our coast, young Doyle rescuing one by carrying them on his back and the other two holding onto an oar as he swam back to shore. After being awarded the Royal Humane Society medal – a forerunner of the RNLI – Doyle (coxswain of the lifeboat the Sarah Tancred) saved the lives of two other people over the ensuring years.

Tragedy was to strike our local hero though, along with two members of his family.

It was on October 14th, 1892 that a terrible storm hit Greystones harbour, and three of the local lifeboat crewJohn, his brother, William, and the latter’s son, Herbert Doyle – went out to rescue The Mersey, a schooner that was moored at the jetty and now in serious trouble. A freak wave washed the three men out to sea, and attempts to save the men – such as throwing boat hooks for them to grab onto – were all in vain, their bodies taken by the tide towards the South Beach. All three men lost their lives, John Doyle’s body washing up at Drummin the following day.

Attending the August 25th, 2013 ceremony were members of John Doyle’s family, including his granddaughter, Betty Lowe, who received a framed, researched history of her grandfather from Wicklow RNLI’s Ciaran Doyle. Also present were Frank Doyle and Derek Paine, as well as Cllr Kathleen Kelleher and the Wicklow RNLI crew.

Thanks to John McGowan for the pics on the day. You can read the poem the Doyle trio inspired below…


You can discover the McEntagart connection to the above here, find out more about the tragedy here, chart the troubled history of Greystones harbour here. Sadly, Betty passed on Sunday, May 24th 2020…