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Born in Liverpool, Dooley was apprenticed as a welder at Birkenhead Shipyards, later he worked at Dunlop's factory in Speke, Liverpool and as a cleaner at St. Martin's School of Art, London, before turning to sculpture.
In 1953 he attended sculpture classes at St Martin's School and held his first show in 1962, at St. Martin's Gallery, London.
A sculptor of religious subjects, he usually worked in bronze or scrap metal, and produced work for churches in England, Spain and Latin America.
He was also a member of the Communist Party and was commissioned to design and execute La Pasionaria, for Custom House Quay, Glasgow (1971), as a memorial to the Glasgow volunteers who fought in the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-9.