Dr Edward Daly: Presidents recall qualities of ‘perfect pastor’

Retired bishop ‘spent himself in service of others’

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

President Michael D Higgins has led the tributes to the retired bishop of Derry, Dr Edward Daly, who died on Monday at the age of 82. Mr Higgins said Dr Daly would be remembered "for his peaceful, compassionate, humanitarian and courageous actions during the appalling events of Bloody Sunday. This was but one part of the great contribution that was his life of service to the citizens of Derry."

Former president Mary McAleese said Dr Daly’s death “provokes both grief and gratitude: grief at the loss of a man who epitomised all that us best in humanity and in priesthood; gratitude for this man who was the perfect pastor. His strength lay in his innate decency, courage and honesty.”

The Primate of All-Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, recalled Dr Daly as a man who "literally spent himself in the service of others". He "walked with his people in their struggles and joys and was most at home out in the streets, parishes and communities of his diocese".


Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin described Dr Daly “as one of the most distinguished and best-loved bishops in Ireland.” Speaking on




Today with Sean O’Rourke

, he said that “during the Widgery inquiry [into Bloody Sunday], all those years when they were basically calling him a liar, he didn’t respond. He never changed his version or his anger over how it was covered up.”

The current Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown, recalled his predecessor’s “deep love of the people of this diocese.” The bishops, priests and people of the diocese “were blessed to have such a dedicated and faithful priest”.

The former Church of Ireland bishop of Derry and Raphoe, James Mehaffey, said he and Dr Daly had become "firm friends". They had worked closely together, at home and abroad. "The friendship which developed between us was one of the great blessings of my ministry."

President of the Methodist Church in Ireland Rev Bill Mullally said Dr Daly "was never hesitant in denouncing violence . . . His ministry was enriched through his own health problems, which, in his latter years as chaplain to the hospice in Derry, enabled him to empathise with those he ministered to."

Dr Daly’s remains arrived at St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry on Monday night and will be waked there until the funeral Mass at 3.30pm on Thursday. He will be buried within the grounds of the cathedral alongside his predecessor, Bishop Neil Farren.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times