Belfast Telegraph

Bishop Edward Daly dies: Clergyman's body brought to repose in St Eugene's Cathedral in Derry

Priest made famous by 'white flag' as he helped escort dying youth on Bloody Sunday

The body of Bishop of Edward Daly, described as the 'people's bishop', has been brought to repose in St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry.

Bishop Daly passed away on Monday at Altnagelvin Hospital with his family and loved ones at his bedside.

Hundreds of people accompanied his remains from Bradley and McLaughlin’s Funeral Home in William Street to the cathedral. Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was among those in attendance.

Announcing the death earlier Bishop Donal McKeown said: "Bishop Daly was born in Belleek, County Fermanagh, in the Diocese of Clogher, on 5 December 1933. 

"After primary education in Belleek, he attended second level education in Saint Columb’s College, Derry.  From there, he was sent, as a student for the Diocese of Derry, to prepare for priesthood in the Pontifical Irish College, Rome.

"Bishop Daly was ordained on 16 March 1957, a priest of the Diocese of Derry.  His first appointment was as a Curate in Castlederg, Co Tyrone.  In 1962, he was appointed as a Curate in Saint Eugene’s Cathedral, Derry.  In 1973, he was appointed Religious Advisor to RTÉ, Dublin. 

"In 1974, he was ordained Bishop of Derry, where he served until serious illness compelled him to retire in 1994.  In retirement, despite poor health, until earlier this year Bishop Daly continued to serve as a dedicated Chaplain to the Foyle Hospice, Derry, a ministry in which he touched the lives of so many people.  He also served as Diocesan Archivist."

The clergyman continued: "Bishop Daly served, without any concern for himself, throughout the traumatic years of the Troubles, finding his ministry shaped by the experience of witnessing violence and its effects; through this dreadful period he always strove to preach the Gospel of the peace of Christ.

"Bishop Daly provided an example of priestly ministry which was exemplary, inspired by service of God and the people he encountered. 

"His ministry was characterised by his deep love of the people of this diocese, his dedicated visitation of parishes and his constant availability to others.  The bishops, priests and people of the diocese were blessed to have such a dedicated and faithful priest among them.

"May Bishop Daly rest in peace."

Bishop Daly will repose in St Eugene's Cathedral until a Requiem Mass at 3.30pm on Thursday. He will be laid to rest immediately afterwards in the grounds of the cathedral.

Tributes paid to Bishop Daly

SDLP leader and Foyle MLA Colum Eastwood said: “It is with the deepest of sadness that Derry learns of Bishop Daly’s death this morning. It is difficult to fully express the huge sense of loss which the city of Derry is currently feeling. He was greatly loved and will be hugely missed.

“Edward Daly was truly the people’s Bishop. There was nothing distant about him. He was part of the people and that is why they in turn welcomed him into their trust.

"Although a proud Fermanagh man, as a young priest he took this city to his heart and very quickly became Derry’s most beloved blow-in.

“For many outside of Derry, their memory of Bishop Daly will always lie in the iconic image captured on Bloody Sunday. That singular moment captured the man’s compassion and courage in the face of violence. It was and remains an image which told the story of his life’s work.  

“For the people of Derry though, Bishop Daly was iconic for so much more. Our memory will be of a man of many more images not just one.

"We were fortunate to have shared so many more moments with him, moments in which the true strength of his gentleness and care were revealed.

“As Bishop and later as Chaplain to the Foyle Hospice it was Bishop Daly’s personal and pastoral tenderness which brought him into the hearts and homes of so many Derry families. It is those memories which are in the minds of Derry’s people today.

“The thoughts and prayers of the SDLP, the city of Derry and people right across the North are with his family and friends at this time.”

SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan said, “Through turbulent, turgid times Bishop Daly provided signal witness against violence, division and despair.

“We have all been blessed by his pastoral leadership which offered consolation, counsel, challenge and conciliation as they were needed.

"Through the worst of hurt he also offered national and international witness in respect of healing and the purpose of reconciliation.”

Alliance Deputy Leader and MLA Naomi Long said: "I am very sad to learn of the passing of Bishop Emeritus Daly and would extend condolences to his family and friends on behalf of the Alliance Party.

“Whilst many will immediately recall the iconic image of him assisting Jackie Duddy on Bloody Sunday, it was only one example of his courage in standing against violence from whatever source throughout the Troubles.

“His work in the 1980s with Church of Ireland Bishop, James Mehaffey, bringing people in the dioceses together to stand against violence has left a lasting legacy in the city to this day, for which both men were recognised only a year ago.

“His continued pastoral work in Foyle Hospice after his retirement is testament to his commitment to serving God and his people, and he will be hugely missed by all who knew him.”

Bedside vigil

Relatives of the clergyman were last night gathered round his bedside as he was described as being gravely ill in Altnagelvin Hospital.

Catholic clergy had urged parishioners to pray for the 82-year-old, who is perhaps best-known outside the city for a famous image showing him carrying a makeshift white flag - a blood-soaked handkerchief - when as Father Daly he helped escort a dying teenager on Bloody Sunday.

Derry Diocese spokesman Fr Michael Canny told the Belfast Telegraph last night: "He is very, very ill in Altnagelvin Hospital and his family are keeping a day and night vigil at his bedside.

"We are asking for people of faith to keep him in their prayers. He has been in hospital for more than two weeks.

"He has been a priest since 1957. He has been poorly for slightly over two weeks. The family are there."

However, on Monday morning it was announced the priest had passed away.

Independent councillor Sean Carr knew Dr Daly well and was 13 on Bloody Sunday when the clergyman walked with a handkerchief along Chamberlain Street in 1972 with the dying Jackie Duddy (17).

Aged 39 at the time, the then Fr Daly, who was a priest at St Eugene's Cathedral, was nearby when Mr Duddy was shot. He gave the teenager the last rites.

Mr Carr still lives at Abbey Street, just 100 yards from where that image was captured on camera, and he said last night there was great sadness in the city and many people were praying for Bishop Daly.

Mr Carr did not actually see the handkerchief moment in 1972, but did witness tragedy that day as two people died in his home.

Mr Carr was the youngest witness at the much criticised Widgery Tribunal into the events of that day.

He told the Belfast Telegraph last night before his death that people were struggling to take it in that Dr Daly was gravely ill.

Mr Carr said: "He is a great man, very down-to-earth and when people used to call him Fr Daly instead of Bishop Daly he used to tell them not to worry.

"He is the 'people's bishop'.

"I know him from the days when he was a priest at St Eugene's Cathedral. He knew my father.

He added: "There are many sad homes in this city tonight and many prayers are being said for him."

Bishop Daly served as Bishop of Derry from 1974 until 1993 and has suffered from ill-health for several years.

He retired from his role as chaplain to the Foyle Hospice earlier this year.

Fr Canny said that after retiring the bishop "dedicated his life" to working with the hospice.

Fr Canny said that after the news emerged of Bishop Daly being seriously ill there were hundreds of comments on social media which "gave a flavour" of the high regard in which the prominent clergyman is held.

Bishop Daly, who was originally from Belleek in Co Fermanagh, was hugely respected in Londonderry and was awarded the Freedom of of the city along with Dr James Mehaffey, the Anglican bishop.

On Facebook, one person said: "One of my favourite people in all the world... So down to earth and humble and caring. A beautiful human being. God bless."

A second person said: "A true saint, he called to chat with my mum in the hospice every evening, regardless of religion.

Another user said: "Not of my persuasion, but remember this kindly man from my living days down Bishop Street. Hope the Lord is gracious.

"I'm really sad to hear this news."

"It amazed me how he knew almost everyone in Derry by name!", said another admirer.

Statement by Bishop Boyce

"It was with deep sadness that I heard this morning of the death of Bishop Edward Daly, Bishop Emeritus of Derry.

"Bishop Edward had retired, on account of ill health, before I came here as Bishop of Raphoe in 1995.  Nevertheless I met him on various occasions, and found him to be a very kind and thoughtful person. 

"His attention - at times heroic - to victims of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, for prisoners and their families, and for all who suffered in any way, was remarkable.  Bishop Edward was a revered pastor and speaker whose words touched, and actions sustained, many people in Derry and across Ireland.

"Even in his years of retirement, Bishop Edward gave generous service to the diocese, both in its archives and in his role as the ever-popular and compassionate chaplain to the Foyle Hospice in Derry.

"May he now rest in the peace of his Lord and Master."

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