Bishop Edward Daly

Michael Doherty a citizen of Derry remembers Bishop Edward Daly who died earlier this week.

Bishop Edward Daly will forever be remembered around the world as the “Priest of Bloody Sunday”.

Waving a bloodstained handkerchief, as he and others tried to get help for the wounded and dying teenager, Jackie Duddy.

And while his experience on that dark day will, for many, tie him to the City of Derry, there was and is so much more.

Born in Ballyshannon in 1933 and growing up above his parents’ grocery store in Beleek, young Edward first came to Derry as a boarder at St Columb’s College in the City. It was here that he first felt a vocation for the Priesthood, went on to study in Rome, and was ordained in 1957. After serving as curate in Castlederg he moved. in 1962, to St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry.

Apart from a few months in Dublin, Derry has been his home since.

As a young priest he saw first-hand the poverty, overcrowding and unemployment caused by discrimination, and joined the civil rights marches. We all know what happened on Bloody Sunday, what came after it, and his testimony to it.

I could write a very long list of Bishop Daly’s words and deeds, his compassion, his courage, his forthright disavowal of violence from whatever “side”. But to us what epitomised this Bishop of Derry was not the “Bishop”, but the “Of Derry”

He was with us on, arguably, our darkest day as a City. He was a constant comfort to the bereaved families of Bloody Sunday, the victims of violence, the prisoners and their families. He preached the Gospel of Justice and Human Rights throughout troubled times, and all in a quiet, unassuming way.

He was with us, one of us. He said of the people of Derry “We’ve been through it together, and when you’ve been through a very tough time together you become close to people.”

After standing down as Bishop in 1994, instead of retiring, he requested to become Chaplain at the Foyle Hospice in Derry, a role he carried out until just a few months ago.

I only got to personally know Bishop Daly at the hospice in the last year. What struck me most was the humility, almost shyness, of the man. What is a Christian? Someone who shows their faith by example, the example of service to your fellow humanity, the example of doing this in humility and, above all, the example of Love. Bishop Daly showed all these in abundance by his loving service, prayer, and friendship with my mother during her final months, including many a joke and slagging!

I think his own words say it all…

This ministry involved sharing the joys and the sorrows, the successes and the failures, the impatience and the frustration, the laughter and the tears, as well as the doubts and questions of people. The Bogside people insisted you listen as well as speak. It was precisely such a ministry that attracted me to the Priesthood in the first place, and serving in such a situation provided everything I could have asked or hoped for in priesthood.

"and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” - Micah 6:8


  1. Thanks Michael for writing this at such short notice. It is one of the most read pieces here in a while.

    My personal memory of him is when he came into the H Block cells to visit the prisoners during the blanket protest.

    People often say it requires courage to take up arms against a superior military power. It took even more courage to face them with nothing but a white handkerchief when they were in their most murderous mode. He must have known when he began that journey that he could easily have been killed by a malevolence that would hardly allow a white handkerchief to stand in the way of murder.

  2. Yoy obviously haven't read the report into the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe while Bishop Edward Daly-a true obedient son of mother Church- was in charge. He provided shelter and protection to paedophile priests who went on to rape more children.