Mary Daly (Australian writer)

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For the U.S. feminist theologian, see Mary Daly.

Dame Mary Daly, DBE (24 August 1896 – 11 June 1983) was an Australian author, humanitarian and charity worker.


She was born as Mary Dora MacMahon to Patrick MacMahon, a solicitor, and his wife Mary Ellen (née O'Donnell), in Cootamundra, New South Wales. She was educated at Loreto convent schools in Normanhurst, New South Wales and Ballarat, Victoria.

On 3 January 1923 at St Canice’s Church, Darlinghurst, she married John Joseph Daly (died 1953), a physician and a nephew of the founder of St Vincent's Hospital, Mother Berchmans Daly. The Dalys had two children, John and Marie.[1]

Catholic Welfare Organisation[edit]

With the outbreak of World War II, Daly was the only woman on the executive of the Catholic Welfare Organisation, founded in Melbourne in 1939 by Archbishop Mannix. She became the CWO's president two years later, in 1941.[2]


Daly was also:

  • Member, National Council, Australian Red Cross Society (ARCS)
  • Executive Member, Council of the Victorian Division, ARCS
  • Fund-raiser, Caritas Christi Hospice
  • First woman president (1966–75), Australian Catholic Relief
  • Foundation member (president 1975-77), Ryder-Cheshire Foundation (Australia).[3]


  • Cinty and the laughing jackasses and other children's stories (1961)
  • Timmy's Christmas surprise (1967)
  • Holidays at Hillydale: a story for children about a family's holiday spent on an Australian sheep station (1973)
  • Catholic Welfare Organisation: its work for the men and women of the Services during World War II, September 1939 - June 1948

Honours and awards[edit]

The Roman Catholic Church awarded Mary Daly the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice in 1951 for her service to the church, including her work with the Catholic Welfare Organisation (1939 - 1948).

She was awarded a long service medal from the Australian Red Cross Society in 1940 and honorary life membership in 1971.


Dame Mary Daly died at Fitzroy, Victoria, aged 86, on 11 June 1983.


  • Lofthouse, Andrea (ed.), Who's Who of Australian Women, Methuen Australia, North Ryde (NSW), 1982