Tom Doyle – An Icon of the Legion

Raymond Mulrooney writes about the oldest manager of Morning Star Hostel

In this Centennial year of the Legion of Mary, it is right and appropriate to remember the many faithful members who forged the path that led to the solid foundation of the future Legion of which we are proud to belong. One of those unsung heroes was Tom Doyle. Over the years, I have had the honor of meeting Tom at events associated with the hostel’s beautiful oratory.

From my few encounters with him, I have found him to be a calm and shy type of person, but still very helpful. The recently deceased Liam Hayden, on the other hand, knew him quite well, having volunteered a year of his youth as an inside brother. Liam was devoted to his memory and spoke lovingly on several occasions about the impression he had made on him and his hostel comrades.


Tom Doyle, born in Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow, to a family of six, four boys and two girls. Sadly, both parents died of tuberculosis at an early age, forcing the children to be separated and raised by uncles and aunts. In Tom’s case, that meant going to an uncle’s house on a family farm in Rathvilly, Co. Carlow and later attending school near Tullow. In his early twenties, he moved to Dublin to work, becoming an apprentice in the grocery trade. He was introduced to the Society of St Vincent de Paul by a mutual friend at Myra House, their local headquarters. It was there that he met Frank Duff, then chairman of an SVP conference.

In 1927, responding to a dire need to shelter hundreds of homeless men displaced by the destruction of the Irish Civil War, Frank Duff enlisted the help of volunteer brothers to run a shelter that the government had facilitated, in providing the premises and offering financial assistance. aid. It was the beginning of the entry of men into the Legion, which until now had been entirely made up of women. On March 25, 1927, the shelter / hostel was opened, accommodating more than 200 men, almost overnight solving the then chronic crisis of homelessness.

From my few encounters with him, I found him to be a calm and shy type of person, but always so helpful ”


In 1929 Tom joined the brothers on this adventure at the Morning Star Men’s Hostel, as it is now called, and in January 1931 he gave up his outside job to become an Indoor Brother, to which he devoted the rest of his long life. . In 1931 there were two elderly brothers inside to provide security overnight, so much of the burden of day-to-day running of the inn fell on Frank Duff, who also maintained his civil service job. .

From there, I drew heavily on an article written by Paddy Tynan in 1992 in the Maria Legionis, the year Tom died. It tells about Tom’s first job: running the “Stick Yard” where the hostel residents could earn enough by collecting sticks to sell to pay for their living. (Frank Duff believed that for the self-respect of men, they should make a small contribution to their livelihood).

“Tom got up every day at 5:30 am and celebrated mass at 6 am in the Capuchin Notre-Dame des Anges church, rue de l’Église,” writes Mr. Tynan. “Then he took care of the residents’ and dormitory breakfasts and was on call until the afternoon. After the residents’ tea was distributed, the rest of the evening was devoted to personal attention to the men. “There is a danger,” he once said, “that we may fail in our service by not giving full personal attention to every man. We need to get to know them intimately, share their interests and, as friends, take an interest in their hopes and desires. ‘

“Frequently, Tom did not take advantage of the day and a half off per week granted to the interior staff. Instead, he could travel to Carlow for a Curia meeting. He has carried out extension work in various parts of Ireland and has participated in Perigrinatio Pro Christi projects in Scotland, England and Sweden. He was for many years the Concilium correspondent to the Legion Councils in India. He also helped organize the Legion pilgrimages to St Patrick’s Purgatory at Lough Derg (a three day penance exercise) and he recruited many pilgrims as legionaries.

Good mood

Always in a good mood, the experience of those who had known him for 50 years or more was that he was never brooding or angry. He had reason to be angry, such as when a resident he had treated due to an illness hit him, or when he broke his leg trying to separate fighting residents. , or when the horse and cart used in the distribution for the sale of firewood were itself sold by an inhabitant for his own profit!

Many have sought the benefit of Tom’s prayers. A legionary was directed by him to a seminary where he was ordained. He was president of the Morning Star Praesidium from 1950 to 1956 and from 1960 to 1966. His deep spirituality was revealed in his addresses, in particular his devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to Our Lady. He often emphasized the gifts received by membership in the Legion: the doctrine of the Mystical Body, true devotion to Mary, and appreciation of the breviary. He was an avid student of the Legion Handbook.

The Morning Star Hostel where Tom has dedicated his life continues to provide assistance and refuge to homeless men.

Tom has always kept his simplicity and told a friend that he likes nothing better than sitting around the large log fire in the common room at the end of the day with the residents. But at the beginning he found the duty of an interior brother very difficult until he became attached to men. A friendship deserves to be remembered: it was with a resident, formerly a military officer and university graduate, who had a drinking problem. This man went from the inn in England for the ceremony of awarding a cadet certificate to his son. But tragically, the son was killed on his way to the ceremony.

The man later moved to England but returned to the hostel to express his thanks and inform Tom that he and his wife had entered the Catholic Church. Efforts by state departments and other agencies to reward him for his service were graciously refused by Tom. At the age of 80, he entered a retirement home run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, very kind to him and where he was universally appreciated. He attended two masses each day as well as the local praesidium meeting. Until the end, he recited his breviary daily. Tom died on Friday October 30, 1992.

Frank Duff enlisted the help of volunteer brothers to set up a shelter which the government facilitated, providing premises and offering financial assistance.


Twelve priests concelebrated Mass for Tom’s funeral in the Capuchin Church and he was buried (as per his own request), in the burial ground of the residents of the Morning Star at Glasnevin Cemetery, there to await the call from Gabriel in the company of his poor beloveds. The morning of the funeral was wild and stormy, but after the recitation of the Legion prayers and the singing of the Salve Regina, the sun broke out as if to let us know that the loving soul of Tom Doyle was at home with Mary, Beauty The morning star.

The Morning Star Hostel where Tom has dedicated his life continues to provide assistance and refuge to homeless men.

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