Former Catholic primate of Ireland Cardinal Daly dies


The death has taken place of the former Catholic primate of all-Ireland, Cardinal Cahal Daly. He was 92.

Dr Daly, Ireland’s most senior cardinal, was taken to the specialist coronary care unit of Belfast City Hospital on Monday. He passed away there this evening in the presence of family and friends.

Cahal Daly was born in the village of Loughguile, on the edge of the Glens of Antrim, on October 1st, 1917, the third of seven children. His father was a primary school teacher originally from Keadue in Co Roscommon while his mother was from Co Antrim. 

He had served as bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise as well as Down and Connor before being appointed as Archbishop of Armagh and primate of all-Ireland in 1990. He retired in 1996, but continued to study and write since leaving Armagh. He is survived by his sister Rosaleen, brother Paddy, sisters-in-law Barbara and Mavis, nieces and nephews. 

In a statement tonight, Primate of all-Ireland Cardinal Seán Brady said his predecessor left an "immense" legacy due to his work in theology, philosophy and on the Northern Ireland peace process. "Our country has lost one of its brightest lights and most able sons, who played a vital role in promoting reconciliation, peace and justice at a critical moment in our history. His total commitment to the service and good of others was rooted in the central conviction of his life," said Dr Brady.  

President Mary McAleese said the Cardinal had a long and distinguished career and would be fondly remembered by many people on this island. "He showed immense courage in his efforts to advocate for peaceful resolution to the conflict in Northern Ireland and he was deeply committed to inter-church relations," she said. "He was an outstanding scholar and writer and maintained his academic interests right up to the time of his death."

Taoiseach Brian Cowen said he was saddened to learn of the passing of Dr Daly, who "was a man of great intellect and humanity. He made a huge contribution to both the Catholic Church and civic society in Ireland."

Dr Daly was a trenchant supporter of peace, the Taoiseach added. "He was an outspoken critic of those who used violence to achieve political objectives. He gave strong backing to the emerging peace process in Northern Ireland and determinedly used his influence in every way he could to bring about a peaceful solution."

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said Dr Daly was a celebrated ecclesiast who "strove tirelessly for peace and sanity in the midst of great turmoil in the North".

Northern Ireland’s deputy prime minister Martin McGuinness said he was saddened by the news. "It is no secret during the conflict that Republicans and Cardinal Daly never enjoyed a close relationship," the Sinn Féin MP said. "However, in the course of recent years I met with him on numerous occasions all of which were friendly and warm encounters. So it was with genuine sadness this evening that I learnt of his passing."

The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, The Most Revd Alan Harper, said Dr Daly was a distinguished scholar as well as an outstanding leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland. "During the most challenging of times the Cardinal gave wise and courageous leadership both as Bishop of Down and Connor and subsequently as Archbishop of Armagh. He was a fearless and forthright champion of peace and justice, always speaking out unambiguously on community issues during the darkest days of the Troubles."

The Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Dr Stafford Carson, said Dr Daly will always be remembered for the huge contribution he made to the developing of better relationships between the Protestant and Catholic churches. "His Co Antrim roots, of which he was always proud, gave him a deep understanding of the essential part that Presbyterians have played in the history of our community, something he was always happy to explain to others," Dr Stafford said.

The President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Rev Donald P Ker, said Cardinal Daly was a man of "strong principles coupled with a gentle Christian spirit" who greatly aided understanding between the various Christian churches throughout Ireland.

Dr Daly's remains will repose at  St Peter's Cathedral in Belfast on Saturday before being taken to St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh on Sunday. His funeral will be held on Tuesday. He will be buried in the Cathedral grounds.