Obituary: Sean Doherty

Sean Doherty who died, aged 79 , at the end of July was a committed lifetime Socialist whose belief in a better world never wavered right to the end.

I often was reminded of the line in Roger Whittaker’s song “New World in the Morning” which goes “I met a man who had a dream he’d had since he was twenty. I met that man when he was eighty one” when I thought of Sean’s continual, innate, deep belief in what he believed was a better, refined and ultimately more intelligent way of life, i.e. Socialism.

I first met Sean in 1994 through a mutual love of hiking and the Great Outdoors. Despite a considerable age difference we got along together terrifically from the start and he became a sort of elder, wise father figure to me through all the years that followed. Sean loved nature and carried his belief in a natural way of living through to never knowingly harming another creature. He became a vegetarian in his youth, when such a way of life invited all kinds of accusations of being a crank and eccentric. He later embraced full veganism, a lifestyle he maintained up until his death. Long before alternative medicine, herbalism and a holistic approach to one’s body became popular Sean had embraced them.

Sean was, like us all, a person of many parts and though he held his views with great conviction was a gentle man in every sense of the word. He had, like myself, a great love for the arts. He was a great appreciator of classical music, could quote Shakespeare and had a deep love of both paintings and theatre. He carried his appreciation of the latter discipline and his talent for acting to training as an actor himself and for a few years in the late 1960’s appeared in small parts on the stage of the Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s National Theatre, at a time when this theatre could be proud of that title. During the time I knew him we often went to a play or spent a few hours in an art gallery.

Sean never married or pursued an elevated career. Despite long term relationships with a number of women and a job in the Civil Service which he carried out professionally, both he felt would interfere with his “freedom” or at least as much of it as Capitalism would allow.

His involvement with the Socialist party stretched back to his youth. His father’s involvement in Trade Unionism and the ideas of James Connolly and Jim Larkin, set Sean off on a path which brought him ultimately to the Socialist Party. From the 1940’s to the 1990’s the World Socialist Movement party had an affiliated Irish party (the Socialist Party of Ireland, later the World Socialist Party of Ireland), whose existence reflected, I suppose, the volume of people who shared an enthusiasm for these type of ideals at that time. Sean was an active member of the party until it disbanded whereupon he became, subsequently, a member of the Socialist Party of Great Britain.

It was Sean’s influence that made me a Socialist. I’ve always felt Socialists are born thus and people like this just need the right nurturing and the logical, guiding hand of an already committed fellow traveller, to make them see the sense of the Socialist argument, and, by default the inherent, jumbled nonsense at the heart of the capitalist system.

People like Sean are special and don’t come along every day. I’m just glad we met and I had the privilege of thirteen years of his unique company and personality. He was a good and genuine friend and his legacy to me is both immense and far reaching.

David Marlborough (Dublin)

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