Cardinal Cahal Daly has died

Cardinal Cahal Daly

Cardinal Cahal Daly

Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All-Ireland, issued the following statement last night.

It is with great sadness that I heard the news of the death of Cardinal Cahal Daly, who died peacefully this evening in the presence of family and friends at the City Hospital in Belfast, after a short illness.

At this time my thoughts and prayers are with his sister Rosaleen, his brother Paddy and sisters-in-law Barbara and Mavis, his nieces and nephews, his extended family and all who mourn him in the dioceses of Ardagh & Clonmacnois, Down & Connor and Armagh.

It is difficult to do full justice to the significance and achievements of his long, full and happy life but I believe, when fully assessed and appreciated, the legacy of Cardinal Cahal Daly to the ecclesiastical and civil history of Ireland will be seen as immense.

Having attended the Seconded Vatican Council as an expert theologian he worked untiringly for the renewal which it promoted. This was especially evident in his commitment to liturgical reform, renewal of religious life, the vocation of the lay faithful, catechetics, the social doctrine of the Church and unity among Christians. His writings in philosophy and theology were widely acclaimed and the influence of his keen intellect and energy on the work and publications of the Irish Bishops’ Conference was vast.

At a critical and troubled time in Irish history, he was prophetic in his conviction that lasting peace can only be built on justice, mutual understanding and respect for the traditions and aspirations of others. He was firm and courageous in his absolute rejection of violence as a means of achieving political ends. With leaders of other Christian traditions, his work for reconciliation helped to create the environment and principles upon which a lasting political accommodation was eventually reached.

In all of this, Cardinal Daly remained, first and foremost, a kind and gentle shepherd of God’s people who, on his appointment as Cardinal, in June 1991, prayed that he might never lose the sense of enthusiasm for the following of Christ and for his Gospel.  That was never likely to happen for I knew him as a man of deep prayer and unshakable faith. In the words of one of his favourite verses from St. Paul, he was resolute in his belief that God’s power ‘working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask for or imagine’ (Ephesians 3:20-21).

A natural teacher, a consummate scholar, a kind friend and a faithful and holy priest, Cardinal Daly will be missed by those whose lives he graced. Our country has lost one of its brightest lights and most able sons, who played a vital role in promoting reconciliation, peace and justice at a critical moment in our history. His total commitment to the service and good of others was rooted in the central conviction of his life, captured by the words of his Episcopal motto – ‘Jesus Christ is the same today as he was yesterday and as he will be forever’ (Hebrews 13:8).

May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.


Cardinal Cathal B Daly was born in Loughguile, Co Antrim on 1 October 1917.  He was educated at St Patrick's National School in Loughguile, and then as a boarder in St Malachy's College, Belfast in 1930.

He studied Classics at Queen's University in Belfast and earned his BA with Honours and also the Henry Medal in Latin Studies in 1937 and completed his MA the following year.

He entered St Patrick's College, Maynooth, and was ordained to the priesthood on 22 June 1941.  He continued studies in theology in Maynooth, from where he obtained a doctorate in divinity (DD) in 1944.

His first appointment was as Classics Master in St Malachy's College (1944-1945).  In 1945, he was appointed Lecturer in Scholastic Philosophy at Queen's University, Belfast.  From 1952–1953 Queens granted him sabbatical leave, which he spent studying at the Catholic Institute of Paris where he received a licentiate in philosophy.

He was a peritus, or theological expert, at the Second Vatican Council (1963–1965) to the late Bishop William Philbin, former Bishop of Down and Connor, during the first session of the Council and to the late Cardinal William Conway, former Archbishop of Armagh, for the rest of the Council.

Cardinal Daly was ordained Bishop of Ardagh & Clonmacnois in 1967 and was subsequently consecrated as Bishop of Down and Connor in 1982.

Cardinal Daly was consecrated as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland on 16 December 1990 and served until his retirement, at the age of 79, where he was succeeded by Cardinal Brady on 1 October 1996.  Cardinal Daly  was created a cardinal in by the late Pope John Paul II on 28 June 1991.  Cardinal Daly has the motto, "Jesus Christ, yesterday and today" taken from Hebrews 13:8.

Upon his retirement Cardinal Daly returned to his study of theology and philosophy. He wrote a series of books on violence and the search for peace in Northern Ireland including a book of memoirs 'Steps on My Pilgrim Journey' which was published in 1998.  Among his other published works are 'Philosophy in Britain from Bradley to Wittgenstein' and 'The Minding of Planet Earth', published in 2004. In March 2007 the late Dr Thomas Kelly, former head of the Department of Philosophy at NUI Maynooth, launched 'Philosophical Papers', a collection of articles previously published in various journals by Cardinal Daly.

Source: Irish Catholic Media Office

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