Derry mourns bishop Edward Daly, ‘a saint and a hero’

Retired cleric who waved handkerchief on Bloody Sunday remembered as ‘peacemaker’

Archive footage from Bloody Sunday in Derry, January 30th 1972, showing former Bishop of Derry Dr Edward Daly as he helped victims of the shootings. Video: Reuters

 

The bells tolled for one hour solid at St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry on Monday morning after confirmation of the news of the death of the retired bishop of Derry Dr Edward Daly.

The 82-year-old died in Altnagelvin Area Hospital surrounded by members of his immediate family and by priests from from the diocese of Derry.

Throughout the day, many of those who knew him arrived at the church to pray for him. A book of condolence was also opened by the city’s Mayor, Hilary McClintock, in the Guildhall.

The image of Dr Daly waving a bloodied handkerchief as he sought to lead men carrying Jackie Duddy to medical attention on Bloody Sunday in January 1972 became one of the most recognisable images of the Troubles.

One local man, Eugene Byrne, said his family never forgot the kindness Dr Daly had shown to them when he was a curate in St Eugene’s parish.

“It was in August 1969 at the start of the Troubles. William Street in the Bogside, just outside St Eugene’s Cathedral, was ablaze. My granny’s flat at the bottom of the street was burnt out and then our flat at the top of the street was burnt out.

“We had nowhere to live and Fr Daly, as he then was, heard about us and for the next few weeks he put us up in the parochial house until we were rehoused,” said Byrne.

Support

Kathleen Gillespie, whose husband Patsy died alongside six British soldiers in an IRA bomb attack on a Border checkpoint in October 1990, recalled the support Dr Daly gave to her family following the atrocity.

“What he did for me after Patsy’s death words cannot express. He was there for me a long time after Patsy died. He would also drop in unexpectedly now and again, and when he was given a cup of tea in a china cup he always insisted in having a mug instead. It was a long-standing joke between us,” she said.

Donegal man Peter Tynan said he travelled from Buncrana to pray in St Eugene’s Cathedral when he heard about Dr Daly’s death.

“I had to come here. My wife Noleen O’Donnell, before we were married, was running alongside bishop Daly during Bloody Sunday when the wee boy Jackie Duddy was shot dead.

“Bishop Daly was a peacemaker and the peace process would not have happened without him and without the sacrifices he made. People didn’t realise at the time the amount of work he was doing in the background and it must have put a great strain on him. He was a great man,” he said.

Kay Duddy, whose 17-year-old brother Jackie was shot dead as he ran with Dr Daly away from British army paratroopers on Bloody Sunday, said: “He was a very special friend of my family after Jackie’s death and it was such a comfort for my family that he was with Jackie and gave him the last rites.

“He was a good man who I know personally was haunted by Jackie’s death for a very, very long time.”

“He used his handkerchief to tend to Jackie. It was covered in Jackie’s blood. His mother had embroidered it for him for his ordination as a priest and his name was on it,” Kay Duddy recalled.

“To me he was a saint and a hero and such a modest person. He will forever be in our hearts and I’m sure he’ll be having a chat with Jackie in heaven today.”