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The Connaught Telegraph is a weekly local newspaper published in Castlebar, County Mayo in Ireland. The paper is in broadsheet format (nine columns), and published every Tuesday. It has the highest circulation of the paid-for Mayo newspapers. According to an independent audit, it has a circulation of approximately 13,506.
Frederick Cavendish founded the Connaught Telegraph or Mayo Telegraph as it was originally named, on 17 March 1828, and used it as an organ to help fight the battles of the lower classes. He swiftly established a reputation as a man of authority and strong opinions, and demonstrated how powerful the press could be in the long and arduous struggle to achieve Home Rule for Ireland. As editor, Cavendish earned a reputation as a man to be respected. When setting up the newspaper, he incorporated it into the titles of other local publications. As a result many historians believe the Telegraph goes back as far as 1808. They base their assertion on the fact the name or title of a newspaper does not and could not take from the age of the original newspaper.
( Mayo County Library) Ironically Lord Cavendish became the unwitting founder of a publication that would bring his landlord class and indeed the British Empire to its knees in County Mayo and Ireland as it failed as a newspaper and was rescued and taken over by one James Daly.
Daly was the Connaught Telegraph's most celebrated editor. He became a part owner of the newspaper with Alfred O'Hea before taking over complete ownership at the beginning of 1879 following the death of O'Hea a short time earlier. Daly held the reins as editor and proprietor until 1892, during which time he utilised the power of the printed word to campaign forcefully against absentee landlords, rack rents and evictions.
In February of the next year, 1876, he went into partnership with Alfred O'Hea and purchased the ailing Castlebar-based newspaper, The Connaught Telegraph. He took over complete ownership of the newspaper at the beginning of 1879. Daly's newspaper was to be the land movements most effective propaganda vehicle, giving western farmers an outlet to express their grievances.
Many Nationalists had become disillusioned with the Home Rule movement and the organisation of demonstrations to show their views began to win favour. In May 1876, the Ballinasloe Tenants Defence Association was founded, a movement which greatly impressed Daly. Daly and O'Hea regularly attended meetings of the association and in, 1878, the Mayo Farmers Club was established. The club, however, never succeeded in its objectives. No demonstration were organised and before long it became inactive.
Following this, Daly's views on how to act on the tenants behalf changed and he abandoned his policy of publishing their grievances and organising demonstrations. Instead he encouraged them to organise meetings, a policy that ultimately resulted in the formation of the Land League in Daly's Hotel (now the Imperial Hotel), on the Mall, in Castlebar. Daly was appointed secretary of the new organisation. In Claremorris in January 1879, Daly was approached by tenants of Canon Burke's Irishtown Estate requesting him to publish their grievances, of which the list was extensive. Daly declined in fear of libel but advised a mass meeting be held in Irishtown, which he would publicise. This great historic meeting, for which he was largely responsible for organising, took place on 20 April 1879 at Irishtown (Dry Mills). John O'Connor Power was to be the main speaker at the meeting, which had originally been planned for February. The meeting was postponed and, as a result, one Michael Davitt became involved with its organisation. Daly's importance and the liberal approach of his newspaper in furthering the movement's objectives was constantly cited at land meetings throughout Connaught. He also had a restraining affect on the League, with his strong anti-violence policies, and ensured the League remained within the law. He told the Bessborough Commission: "I am a Land Leaguer myself, and I would not be a Land Leaguer if it had anything behind it like revolution. I would fight against it."
His newspaper was also in a precarious position at the time, and he also had a wife and young family to support. As the emphasis of the Land League began to spread to the farmers in the east and south of the country, Daly felt the organisation had deserted the group it was originally set up to serve. This lost the movement much of its appeal. Daly was also critical of the organisation's finances and the drift towards physical force and the centralisation of the political movement.
By 1882 he had left the Land League and he eventually sold the Connaught Telegraph to one of his employees, T.H. Gillespie, in 1888 and became a full time farmer. Up to his death in 1910 he was involved with local Government and served both on Mayo County Council and Castlebar Urban District Council.
The initiation of the Land War and the beginnings of the Land League are all traced back to the works of James Daly. His input into activities which changed the course of Irish history have never been fully recognised. (Extracted from 'James Daly and the rise and fall of the Land League in the West of Ireland' by Gerald Moran, Department of Modern History, St. Patrick's College, Maynooth. He is a son of the late Mr. & Mrs. Tommy Moran, Newline, Castlebar)
Ceremony to mark 100th anniversary of death of James Daly http://www.con-telegraph.ie/news/latest-news/2534-ceremony-to-mark-100th-anniversary-of-death-of-james-daly