Doran, Charles Guilfoyle (1835–1909), civil engineer, Fenian, and bibliophile, was born on 1 February 1835 at Knockanna, Co. Carlow (not as previously stated at Dunlavin, Co. Wicklow), the first of seven surviving children of John Doran and his wife Mary (née Guilfoyle). He was said after his death to have been related on his mother's side to William Byrne (qv) of Ballymanus and to have attended a classical school. He lived in his early manhood in Dublin where he worked as a plasterer and through diligence and study became an architect and civil engineer. The Four Courts Library was partly his work. He was one of a group of advanced nationalists who formed themselves into the National Brotherhood of St Patrick (1861), Doran himself acting as secretary until its demise (1863). Probably towards the end of 1865 he joined the IRB. When Fenian rebellion broke out (March 1867) he was associated with Col. William G. Halpin (qv). Escaping to France, he became acquainted with Marshal MacMahon (with whom he corresponded) and with John Patrick Leonard (qv), whose funeral in Ireland he was to organise. During the Franco–Prussian war (1870–71) Doran seems to have acted as a war correspondent. Returning to Ireland (the date is uncertain), he lived at Queenstown, Co. Cork, employed as clerk of works to the catholic cathedral of St Colman. Excavation of the steeply-sloping site began in April 1868 and the foundation stone (which bore Doran's name) was laid in September 1869. The elaborate French Gothic design necessitated the use of a wide variety of building materials and, after the first mass was said (15 June 1879), construction continued until 1883. As a civil engineer he contributed to several public water schemes in Co. Cork, in particular the Tibbetstown reservoir (1895).
While working on St Colman's cathedral he represented Munster on the eleven-member supreme council of the IRB, the governing body of the Fenian movement set up after 1867. For most of the 1870s he was secretary – he made notes in Taylor shorthand – and, though not a very efficient organiser, was the most active member of the council until he left office in March 1878. He was prominent amongst those Irishmen campaigning for the release of Fenians still in prison as a consequence of their part in the rebellion. Like other Fenians Doran considered parliamentary representation ineffectual as a means of obtaining Irish independence, but persuaded the leadership not to oppose Isaac Butt (qv) and moderate nationalists in the formation of the Home Rule League (November 1873), and campaigned for John Mitchel (qv) when he stood as an independent candidate at the Co. Tipperary by-elections (1874, 1875). Doran's first loyalty was to Fenianism. In the mid-1870s the IRB's membership was in decline and the supreme council divided over what support to give the Home Rule League; while Doran was negotiating (successfully by early 1876) with William Carroll (qv) of the Clan na Gael wing of American Fenianism for the importation of arms, he was at odds with Patrick Egan (qv) and John O'Connor Power (qv), both of whom he succeeded in expelling from the council and from the IRB (by March 1877). When a year later Doran himself left the council, partly for professional reasons, the secretaryship passed to John O'Connor (qv) (1849–1908).
Doran seems to have remained aloof from the agrarian reform and home-rule movement led by Charles Stewart Parnell (qv) and to have been indifferent to the Parnell split of 1890–91. Later he took a prominent part in the ’98 Centenary Committee and was in demand as a speaker on nationalist platforms. He was one of the Queenstown town commissioners (from 1883) and served as their chairman. Doran contributed verse to the Irishman, the Cork Examiner and other newspapers; he was a keen member of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society and wrote several papers for its journal; he left one of the finest private libraries in Ireland, the auctioning of which took three days. A friend of Charles Joseph Kickham (qv) and John O'Leary (qv), he was an admirer of the French republic even into the 1890s when it became strongly anti-clerical. Yet he was apparently a pious catholic as well as a teetotaller and vegetarian. ‘Charlie’ Doran died 19 March 1909 at his home in Union Quay, Cork, to which he had moved four years before from Dunworth House, Queenstown. He married (15 November 1877) Elizabeth Barlow, adopted daughter of Michael F. Murphy, who, like himself, played a part in organising the ‘Catalpa expedition’, which rescued six transported Fenians from imprisonment at Fremantle, Western Australia (1876). Doran and his wife had eight surviving children, three sons and five daughters.