Daniel O'Daly

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Daniel O'Daly (1595 – 30 June 1662), also known as Dominic Ó Dálaigh and Dominic de Rosario, was an Irish diplomat and historian.


He was born in Kerry, Ireland; on his mother's side he belonged to the Desmond branch of the Geraldines, of which branch his paternal ancestors, the [[Ó'Dály's]], were the hereditary chroniclers or bards. He became a Dominican in Tralee, in County Kerry; took his vows in Lugo, studied at Burgos (both in Spain), where he assumed the name Dominic de Rosario, gained his doctorate of theology in Bordeaux and returned as priest to Tralee.

In 1627 he was sent to teach theology in the newly established College for Irish Dominicans at Louvain University in Flanders. In 1629 he went to Madrid on business connected with this college and, seeing that king Philip IV of Spain favoured the project, he established, assisted by three of his Irish brethren, the Irish Dominican College in Lisbon (Portugal) of which he became the first rector. He conceived the project of erecting, near Lisbon, a convent of Irish Dominican nuns, to serve as a refuge in time of persecution. Philip granted permission to do so on condition that he should raise a body of Irish soldiers for Spanish service in the Low Countries. O'Daly set sail for Limerick and got the men. On his return to Madrid in 1639, Santa Maria de Belém on the Tagus, four miles below Lisbon, was selected as a site and, with the assistance of the Countess of Atalaya, the convent of Our Lady of Bom Successo was built. The king had such confidence in him that he made him diplomatic envoy to Charles I of England, to the exiled Charles II Stuart and to Pope Innocent X (1650). The Queen of Portugal also sent him as envoy to Pope Alexander VIII.

In the year 1655 he was sent as envoy from king John IV of Portugal to the French queen Anne of Austria and king Louis XIV to conclude a treaty between Portugal and France. Here as elsewhere, success attended him; but while negotiations abroad and matters of government at home afforded opportunities of serving the Portuguese royal House of Braganza, he would not accept any honour in return. His acquaintances praise his straightforwardness, honesty, tact and disinterestedness. He refused the Archbishopric of Braga, the Primacy of Goa and the Bishopric of Coimbra; nor would he accept the titles of Privy Councillor or Queen's Confessor, though he held both offices.

During these years his chief concern was to put his college on a firm basis and to make it render the greatest possible service to Ireland. Bom Successo became too small for the number of students. In 1659 he laid the first stone of a larger building, which was called Corpo Santo. To provide funds for these houses he consented to become Bishop of Coimbra and, in consequence, President of the royal Privy Council; but before the papal Bull arrived he died at Lisbon in 1662.

His remains reposed in the cloister of Corpo Santo until the earthquake of 1755; the inscription on his tomb recorded that he was "In varus Regum legationibus felix, ... Vir Prudentia, Litteris, and Religione conspicuus" ("Successful in embassies for kings ... A man distinguished for prudence, knowledge and virtue".) A few years after the catastrophe, on the same spot, with the same name and object, a new college and church arose.


In 1665 he published Initium, Incrementum, et Exitus Familiæ Geraldinorum, etc., on the Earls of Desmond, for which he availed himself of the traditional knowledge of his ancestors. In the first part he describes the origin of the Munster Geraldines, their varying fortunes and their end in the heroic struggle for faith and fatherland. The second part treats of the cruelties inflicted on the Irish Catholics, and of the martyrdom of twenty Dominicans, many of whom had been with him in Lisbon.

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  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Daniel O'Daly" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton. [1]

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