Reference Code: IE 2135 P2
Title: The Daly Papers
Dates of Creation: 1877-1975
Extent and Medium: 29 standard boxes, 4 outsize boxes, 3 photographic boxes and 5
outsize framed items (779 files)

Download PDF catalogue here


Name of Creator(s): Daly, John (1845-1916); Daly, Margaret (Madge) (1877-1969); Clarke, Thomas (1858-1916); Dore, Edward (1895-1972), de hÓir, Éamonn (1921-1975) and related individuals.

Biographical History: John Daly was born in Limerick City on 18 October 1845 as the son of a labourer. At the age of 18, he became a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), founded in 1858 to crusade for the establishment of an independent Irish Republic. Its sister organisation in the United States was known as the Fenian Brotherhood. Fenianism was particularly strong in Limerick where John Daly emerged as one of the leaders of an ill-prepared Fenian Rising in 1867. When the attack was repelled, Daly was forced to flee the country. After a period of exile in America, he returned home to reinvigorate the IRB and to promote its aims among the general public. In 1883, John Daly was arrested for his involvement in the so-called Dynamite Campaign, a transatlantic conspiracy directed by Clan na Gael, the rebranded Fenian Brotherhood in America. He was sentenced to penal servitude in Chatham and was later moved to Portland Prison in Dorset. Here he met and befriended a fellow-Fenian, Thomas Clarke, who was serving a sentence for his involvement in a failed attempt to blow up London Bridge as part of the Fenian Dynamite Campaign. Born on 11 March 1858 as the son of a sergeant in the British Army, Clarke had joined the IRB in 1878 and become one of its leading figures.

John Daly was released from prison on health grounds in 1896. His brother Edward having died in 1890, Daly was now responsible for the support of his widow and ten children. After a year of fundraising in America for Clan na Gael, he returned to Limerick and established a bakery in May 1898 at 26 William Street, where several of his nieces worked. John Daly became a figurehead for Limerick nationalist politics and, in spite of efforts to disqualify him, won a seat on the City Council. He was elected Mayor of Limerick City on three occasions (1899-1901) and became known as the Fenian Mayor. The spectacular elevation to civic office of a convicted felon was indicative of the appeal of the republican message to the artisans and labourers of the city. When Thomas Clarke was released from prison in 1898, Mayor Daly arranged to have the Freedom of the City bestowed upon him as a mark of respect for his contribution to the pursuit of Irish independence. It was during this time that Clarke became acquainted with Daly’s niece, Kathleen (1878-1972). They later married in America, where Clarke joined Clan na Gael and became highly regarded among its leadership. His return to Ireland in 1907 proved a catalyst for the reinvigoration of the IRB. A new generation of Fenians emerged in Ireland, promptly imposing their militancy on the aging upper ii political structures of the organization. Among the key figures of this movement alongside Clarke were Seán Mac Diarmada, Patrick Pearse and John MacBride, all friends of the Daly family.

The IRB influenced the formation of the Irish Volunteers, a military organization established in 1913 to lend nationalist support to the Home Rule Bill then going through parliament. The Limerick branch of the Irish Volunteers was founded on 25 January 1914 and located its offices at No 1 Hartstonge Street. Among its most prominent members were Con Colbert and John Daly’s nephew Edward (Ned) Daly. When an auxiliary branch of the women’s nationalist organisation Cuman na mBan was established in Limerick on 5 June 1914, John Daly’s nieces became heavily involved in its activities.

As the Irish Volunteers grew in strength, they made a significant declaration of intent by landing rifles at Howth and Kilcoole in July-August 1914. In 1915, the Irish Volunteers displayed their organisational capabilities by mounting the Dublin funeral of the celebrated Fenian hero Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa. Patrick Pearse’s impassioned oration at Rossa’s graveside, in which he extolled a continuation of the Fenian tradition, was effectively a declaration of war on the British presence in Ireland. Both Thomas Clarke and Edward Daly were key figures in Rossa’s funeral arrangements, the latter as the Officer Commanding Irish Volunteers. Kathleen Clarke assisted by helping to manage the transport of Volunteers to and from the capital.

The determination of Clarke, Pearse and Mac Diarmada to advance the republican cause led to the Easter Rising in 1916. In the weeks prior to it, Roger Casement oversaw a German shipment to Ireland of rifles and ammunition. However, his ship was intercepted by British warships and failed to land its cargo. The Rising commenced in Dublin on 24 April, when Volunteers seized control of strategic buildings in the city centre and numerous detachments secured an outer defensive ring. The Military Council established headquarters in the General Post Office on O’Connell Street, where Pearse read aloud the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. Commandant Edward Daly led the Four Courts garrison where some of the most prolonged and intensive combat occurred. Éamon de Valera was Commandant of the Boland’s Mills garrison. Con Colbert headed a detachment at Watkin’s Brewery and later fought at nearby Marrowbone Lane. Sean Heuston commanded a small force at the Mendicity Institute. Proclamation signatories Clarke and Mac Diarmada remained in the GPO as members of the Provisional Government.

The military phase of the Easter Rising ended on 29 April 1916. Central Dublin was heavily shelled by British artillery, reducing much of the city centre to rubble. Following the Volunteers’ surrender, the British reacted swiftly and executed fourteen Volunteer leaders, including Patrick Pearse and Thomas Clarke on 3 May, Edward Daly on 4 May, Con Colbert and Sean Heuston on 8 May and Seán Mac Diarmada on 12 May. Roger Casement was hanged in England on 3 August for his part in the failed gun-running. Many others were arrested and interned indefinitely in British detention facilities. John Daly, devastated by the loss of his nephew and many close friends, died on 30 June 1916 aged 70. His influence and legacy was marked by the volume of good wishes the Daly family received from organisations and individuals alike. His and his Fenian comrades’ deaths in 1916 marked the beginning of a more organised and effective military campaign against British rule in Ireland.

Among those who fought in the Easter Rising was Edward Thomas Dore, a native of Glin, county Limerick, who had joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood while a student at Rockwell College. He was arrested and interned at Frongoch until the end of 1916 with many of the noted Irish freedom fighters of the time. In 1918, he married Commandant Edward (Ned) Daly’s sister Nora (1889-1977) and took over her family’s bakery business at William Street, Limerick, which he continued to operate until his retirement in August 1971. In 1931, he co-founded the Limerick Memorial Committee to fundraise for a monument on Sarsfield Bridge in Limerick city to honour those who died in the Easter Rising. The sculptor Albert Power (1881-1945), who was invited to design the monument, submitted his proposal in November 1936 and its construction began in 1938 with a view to unveiling the statue on the 25th anniversary of the Easter Rising in 1941. However, the outbreak of the Second World War, the death of Albert Power and a shortage of funds stalled the project, and it was not until 27 May 1956 that the memorial was unveiled. Edward Dore died at his home on 17 June 1972.

Edward Dore’s son Edward Francis Dore was a devoted nationalist and adopted the Irish spelling of his name. Born in 1921, he studied at University College, Dublin and gained an MA degree in Modern Irish in 1941. While at UCD, he was active in An Cumann Gaelach and in the Language Movement. After some further postgraduate work he joined the translation department of the Dáil. In 1957, he was appointed director of the office of the Ordnance Survey. During his tenure, he upgraded and expanded the work of the Placenames Commission and became the country’s leading authority on place names. In 1964, he founded the Placenames Association (An Cumann Logaimneacha) to inform the public of the Commisson’s work and established the Association’s journal, Dinnseanchas, which he continued to edit until his death. De hÓir gave several lectures annually, wrote a number of articles on Irish language subjects and in 1963 published a book in Irish on the lives and work of Eugene O’Curry and John O’Donovan, his nineteenth-century predecessors in the Placenames Office. De hÓir also had a deep interest in archaeology and was a long-standing member of the Royal Society of Antiquaries. He died on 20 December 1975 at Meath Hospital, Dublin, aged 54.

Archival History: The Daly Papers were in the possession of Margaret (Madge) Daly until her death in 1969, when her sister Kathleen Clarke took custody of the material. Following Kathleen Clarke’s death in 1972, custodianship passed to her second son, Thomas Clarke. No original order could be ascertained at the time or receipt of the collection and material was arranged into series in thematic and alphabetical order. The Dore Papers were in the possession of Éamonn de hÓir until his death in 1975, when custodianship passed to his sisters and daughter. The original order of Éamonn de hÓir’s research notes was retained. The remainder of the collection arrived as loose papers and were arranged into series in thematic and chronological order.

Immediate Source of Acquisition: The Daly Papers were donated to the University of Limerick in 1986 by Thomas Clarke, son of Thomas and Kathleen Clarke. The material was stored in the College of Humanities in the office of the then Dean, Professor Patrick F. Doran until 25 March 1996, when it was transferred to the University Library. After Thomas Clarke’s death in 1988, his nephews further donated seven paintings (portrait of John Daly by Seán Keating; portraits of John Daly, Thomas Clarke and Catherine Daly by Seán O’Sullivan; and three watercolours by Countess Constance Markievicz) to the University of Limerick. The paintings, which do not form part of the Daly Papers and are not listed in the present finding aid, are on permanent display in the Daly Room in Plassey House.

The Dore Papers were donated in six separate instalments by Éamonn de hÓir’s sister and daughter between August 2015 and August 2016. The donation incorporated some 1,000 volumes of books from the library of Margaret (Madge) Daly. These books are not listed in the present finding aid but will be catalogued as a separate entity and will be available for research in the Special Collections and Archives Department. The present collection was further complemented by the donation of five volumes of press cuttings relating to John Daly (550-554) by Éamonn de hÓir’s widow on 16 September 2003; and the donation of four framed photographs (651, 684, 690, 696) on 12 June 2013 and a brooch and locket (470) 31 May 2016 by Mike O’Nolan on behalf of his aunt Laura Mary O’Sullivan, daughter of Laura Mary Daly. In addition, on 12 April 2006, the Glucksman Library purchased the following items at the Adams’ Independence Sale to be included in the collection: Manifesto of the Limerick Labour Party (298), Limerick County Council Notice of Agenda (76 (2)); Letter from John Daly to ‘Birney’ (69); and 20 letters from John Daly to Thomas Clarke (72-75, 76 (1), 77-91). The archival history of these items is unknown.


Content and Structure

Scope and Content: The Daly Papers provide a unique insight into the birth of the Irish republic and the country’s search for an identity in the first decades of its existence. At the core of the collection is material relating to John Daly, a prominent Fenian and a source of inspiration to the generation that followed, as attested by the quantity of correspondence from numerous prominent republicans of the time. Of particular note is Daly’s correspondence with Thomas Clarke (48-51, 72-91). Other items of note include; Seán Mac Diarmada’s account of his part in the Howth gun-running operation (123); Edward (Ned) Daly’s last letter to his mother on the eve of the Easter Rising (65); and Kathleen Clarke’s letters to her sisters during her imprisonment in 1918-19 (35-41). The latter also illustrate the role of women in the formation of the Irish republic, as do several other items of correspondence in the collection. Madge Daly’s draft memoirs (264-268) provide a first-hand account of the events leading up to and immediately following the Easter Rising. Her account of a visit to Kilmainham Jail to see her brother Edward (Ned) Daly prior to his execution (269) offers a unique insight into the hardship suffered by the families of the leaders of the Easter Rising, and added poignancy is provided by personal effects in Ned’s possession which were returned to the family after his death (469). The large volume of photographs included in the collection (651-779) provides further insights into the main players of this most turbulent of times. Material relating to the Dore branch of the Daly family opens a window into the young nation’s first steps as an independent state. Of particular interest are Edward Dore’s military medals (478-480) and his determination to commemorate the Easter Rising in Limerick City which resulted in the erection of a memorial on Sarsfield Bridge in 1956 (245, 335-228, 530, 768-772); and his son Éamonn de hÓir’s impassioned campaign for the promotion of the Irish language (425-438) and his extensive contribution to the study of Irish place names (405-424). Also of note is de hÓir’s substantial research into the life of John Daly (448-450, 550-554) with a view to writing his biography, the publication of which was prevented by de hÓir’s untimely death.

The collection of letters and artefacts in the possession of the Daly family was originally considerably more substantial but the burning of their home in 1921 by the British Army destroyed much valuable material (see 98, 225, 256, 473, 529). Records relating to the Daly family’s bakery in Limerick City are superficial, comprising mainly account books from Edward Dore’s time as manager. The fate of the papers relating to this business is unknown.

System of Arrangement: The material has been divided into six series. Series 1 contains general genealogical information relating to the Daly and Dore families. Series 2 contains material relating to the Daly family and comprises in the main correspondence between family members and from noted republican figures of the early 20th century, memoirs written by Madge Daly relating to the events of the Easter Rising, Civil War and the War of Independence, and ephemera relating to individual members of the Daly family. Series 3 contains material relating to the Dore family and includes Edward Dore’s personal correspondence, material relating to his involvement in the activities of the Limerick 1916 Memorial Committee and his bakery business; and the personal correspondence and research notes of his son, Éamonn de hÓir. Series 4 comprises artefacts, mainly personal items belonging to members of the Daly and Dore families together with medals and commemorative artefacts marking various anniversaries of the Easter Rising. Series 5 comprises publications, including newspapers and press cuttings on republican topics collected by the Daly and Dore families, pamphlets and flyers of republican nature from the 1920s-1940s, and books originally owned by Edward Dore’s children. Series 6 comprises photographs and drawings of members of the Daly, Dore and Clarke families, noted republican figures of the early 20th century, and commemorative events. Within each series, the material has been arranged either alphabetically or thematically and thereunder chronologically by date.


Conditions of Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access: Unrestricted access to most items. Some files contain personal information relating to living individuals and are closed until 2030 to protect individual privacy. These files have been identified in the descriptive catalogue.

Conditions Governing Reproduction: Standard copyright regulations apply to all items. For photocopying or reproducing material, please consult with the staff.

Language/ Scripts of Material: English, Irish.


© Copyright 2017 Special Collections Library, University of Limerick