Edward Daly (bishop)

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The Right Reverend
Bishop Edward Daly
Bishop Emeritus of Derry
Church Catholic Church
See Derry
In office 1974 – 1994;
Predecessor Neil Farren
Successor Séamus Hegarty
Personal details
Born (1933-12-05) 5 December 1933 (age 81)
Belleek, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
Styles of
Edward Daly
Mitre (plain).svg
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Lordship or Bishop
Religious style Bishop
Posthumous style not applicable

Edward Daly, D.D. (born 5 December 1933) is an Irish Roman Catholic priest and author. He served as the Bishop of Derry from 1974 to 1993. Daly took part in many civil rights marches and events during The Troubles; he appears in the iconic photograph from Bloody Sunday, waving a blood-stained white handkerchief as he escorts a group carrying a mortally-wounded man after British troops opened fire on demonstrators.

Early life and priestly ministry[edit]

Daly (right) on Bloody Sunday

Born in Belleek in County Fermanagh, Edward is the older brother of former politician Tom Daly.[1]

He was a boarder at St. Columb's College in Derry. He studied for the priesthood in the Irish College in Rome. Before taking on the role of bishop he was a curate in the parish of St Eugene's Cathedral in the Diocese of Derry, which incorporated the Bogside area of Derry City, where he experienced The Troubles in Northern Ireland first hand.

During his time in Derry, he took part in the Civil Rights marches; he had first hand experience of the Battle of the Bogside in 1969, the early years of The Troubles, internment, the events of Bloody Sunday 1972 and Operation Motorman. The image of the then Fr. Daly leading a group carrying the dying Jackie Duddy through the streets of Derry in search of aid whilst waving a white handkerchief on Bloody Sunday is famous around the world.[2]

Bishop of Derry (1974–93)[edit]

Bishop Daly worked with RTÉ in Dublin as a religious adviser. He has appeared on numerous television programmes and contributed to many television documentaries on religious and Northern Ireland affairs.

Bishop Daly's Motto Pasce Oves Meas means "Pastor my sheep". The crest with the oak tree and the dove symbolises the wish for a new flowering of peace and strengthening of faith in the city of St. Colmcille and the See of St. Eugene.

Daly retired from his position as Bishop of Derry in October 1993, after suffering a stroke, and took up a post as chaplain to Foyle Hospice. He published his autobiography, Mister, Are you a Priest?, in 2000, and followed up with a second memoir, A Troubled See: Memoirs of a Derry Bishop in 2011. He is also author of Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled, co-author of The Clergy of the Diocese of Derry: an Index and has contributed an essay to A History of the Diocese of Derry. He was succeeded as prelate in the diocese by Bishop Séamus Hegarty. Daly is a supporter of Derry City F.C.[3]

2010 Claudy bombing report[edit]

In August 2010, Bishop Daly questioned the report into the Claudy bombing by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and criticised media coverage of it. Bishop Daly queried Al Hutchinson’s report, which said the Catholic Church co-operated with the British government to remove a priest suspected of involvement in the bombing in 1972. He further doubted involvement by Fr James Chesney in the bomb attack on the County Londonderry village, which killed nine people, the youngest aged just 8 years old.

Bishop Daly said his experience of the Troubles and of high-profile miscarriages of justice had bred a “constructive scepticism”. “I have seen convictions based on signed admissions and forensic evidence completely overturned years later,” he said. “Fr Chesney was never arrested, questioned, charged or convicted. He cannot answer for himself. He has been dead 30 years.”[4]

Opinions on celibacy[edit]

In his 2011 memoir, A Troubled See, Bishop Daly discussed ending the compulsory celibacy for Roman Catholic priests, writing, "there is certainly an important and enduring place for celibate priesthood. But I believe that there should also be a place in the modern Catholic Church for married priesthood and for men who do not wish to commit themselves to celibacy."[5] His viewpoint generated support and criticism.[6] The Association of Catholic Priests publicly supported his stance.[7]

Bishop Daly clarified his position to the Catholic News Service, and said that he valued his own vow of celibacy, and that it enhanced his own life as a priest. He said, “I am not saying that celibacy should be abolished — I am saying to look at other people who feel they would not be able to live up to a vow of celibacy or undertake it and to look at the possibilities of introducing them to the priesthood.... but I feel that the church must look at this again. I am not the first Irish bishop to speak about this, and others have, around the world, and I am sure this discussion will go on.”[6]

He also received criticism for waiting until he had been retired for 18 years to make his statements: one former seminarian said, "I would far rather he did it when he was still in ministry and was in a position where he would have to be listened to."[8]

Bishop Daly has also been criticised for publicly putting himself at odds with Pope Benedict's own statements on the issue.[citation needed]


While in office, Bishop Daly was fully styled as His Lordship The Most Rev. Edward Daly, D.D., Lord Bishop of Derry. Since leaving office, he has been fully styled as His Lordship The Most Rev. Edward Daly, D.D., Lord Bishop Emeritus of Derry.


  • Edward Daly (2011). A Troubled See: Memoirs of a Derry Bishop. Four Courts Press. ISBN 978-1-84682-312-1. 
  • Edward Daly (2004). Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled: Thoughts on Ministry to the Terminally Ill. Veritas. ISBN 1-85390-825-8. 
  • Edward Daly (2000). Mister, Are you a Priest?. Four Courts. ISBN 1-85182-591-6. 
  • Edward Daly, Kieran Devlin (1997). The Clergy of the Diocese of Derry: an Index. Four Courts. ISBN 1-85182-335-2. 


  1. ^ "The John Hume Show", Magill, 1 March 1984
  2. ^ Daly: Bloody day changed my life, Daily Mirror, 27 March 2007
  3. ^ Mahon, Eddie (1998). Derry City, Guildhall Press, p. 149.
  4. ^ Keenan, Dan (31 August 2010). "Former Derry bishop takes issue with Claudy report". Irish Times. Retrieved 29 March 2015. 
  5. ^ "Ex-bishop calls for end to celibacy". Belfast Telegraph. 13 September 2011. Retrieved 30 March 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "Irish bishop suggests another look at celibacy". Catholic News Service. 15 September 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2015. 
  7. ^ McGarry, Patsy. "Priest group backs Daly's calls for end to celibacy". Irish Times (14 September 2011). Retrieved 30 March 2015. 
  8. ^ Donna Deeney (14 September 2011). "Bishop Edward Daly's celibacy silence slammed". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 29 March 2015. 
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Neil Farren
Bishop of Derry
1974 – 1994
Succeeded by
Dr. Séamus Hegarty