I nDíl Chuimhne Francie (Ruby) Boyle – ‘A man amongst men’
The death of a stalwart republican in Cappagh, Co Tyrone has brought great sadness to our community. Francie (Ruby) Boyle was his name. This man was a legend in Tyrone and farther afield. On the 14th December he was found dead in his small shop in the village of Cappagh. The stories this man took to the grave with him will never be known or told.
This was a man who stood up and was prepared to be counted when times were hard in Cappagh. All the Volunteers on the Roll of Honour had at some stage met Ruby. Many a Volunteer left Ruby’s shop never to return, sadly for many from this small village of Cappagh.
He was a small man but a giant amongst men. He faced the Brits on a daily occurrence with no fear. If there was a man who could be called ‘Mr. Cappagh’, that man was Francie Boyle. As one man said, ‘I hear Cappagh is in mourning’. Well this was indeed all too true!
With the Flag fluttering at half-mast on the monument in Cappagh, they carried him out of his wee shop to his final resting place, in the same graveyard in Galbally where some of his comrades are also buried. This man will be severely missed by the Republican Movement in Tyrone and everyone in the locality.
He not only was a great friend to all the POWs when lying in Long Kesh, but also a reliable man to call to when things might not have been going too well. Many people were helped by this kind man who never turned anyone away.
As one local man said, ‘if Ruby had all the money he was owed he would have been a millionaire’! Many a box of groceries he was willing give to people in need. Food parcels were sent to POWs every week and a few pounds to every newly released POW.
Ruby was shot and injured on the 17th January 1972, in an attack by loyalists / UDR on his bar, where local man Dinny Hughes was killed. This did not deter Ruby, who would never bow to the intimidation of the enemy forces. Today, sadly, the enemy forces aren’t as easily identified, there are people who have very little respect for anyone or anything republican or otherwise.
Ruby was the eyes and ears of the area. His was the place we all called in to hear where the enemy was and where they were last seen. Ruby saved the lives of many Volunteers throughout the war. This is something republicans will never forget.
Ruby was a man of few words. ‘Well Caddies’, he would say, ‘would you take a wee sandwich?’ And Ruby’s sandwich was better known as a ‘Ruby special’. Cheese, ham, brown sauce and a slice of batch loaf. Now this was worth eating! Great for a hangover or hunger or someone in a hurry with a chopper hovering overhead. This would not phase Ruby in the slightest.
There was not a subject he couldn’t discuss with anyone. A man of great knowledge, indeed a wise man. Ruby will be fondly remembered and sadly missed by us all. We offer our sympathies to his family. We will remember him with dignity and respect.
This is one of those men who will live on in the memories and stories of the people of Tyrone for a long, long time. The years ahead will be lighter of laughter and lager, of a drop of the clear stuff and the crack without Ruby. Slán a chara.