Royal Irish Academy

A Revolution in Profiles - Co. Offaly

In association with The Royal Irish Academy

David Daly 1895 -1970

David Daly was born in 1895 to Daniel and Catherine Daly. The Daly’s farmed at Faheeran, Tubber, just inside the Offaly border outside Moate. At the local school he was taught by Patrick Delaney who emphasised the importance of Ireland’s history and culture.

Daly joined the Irish Volunteers when they were organised at Faheeran by M.H. White of Clara, but the unit faded away in the aftermath of the outbreak of the Great War. In 1917 he helped to establish a new company of volunteers and this contingent were affiliated with the Brigade based in Athlone. Daly was appointed O.C. of the First Battalion with companies operating at Coosan, Mount Temple, Kiltoom, Athlone, Moate, Faheran, and Monksland. During the War of Independence he chosen as Head Centre of the IRB in Westmeath.

Active throughout the conscription crisis, Daly exploited the talents of GHQ staff officer Ernie O’Malley to train his subordinates. He oversaw a series of arms raids along with the destruction of vacated constabulary outposts at Creggan and Mount Temple.

Just before the War of Independence, the Flynn family from Galway purchased a 400-acre farm from Goodbodys at Tubber which had previously been the subject of cattle driving. In April 1920, the Flynn home was raided by armed men and 20-year-old Kieran Flynn shot and wounded. The case was later dealt with in a Sinn Fein arbitration court. David Daly did not deal directly with the Flynn case in his statement to the Bureau of Military History, but he did remark…

‘The decisions of the Sinn Fein courts were loyally abided by the people who generally considered they were doing a patriotic duty in doing so and in only rare cases had the volunteers to enforce the courts decisions. Some big land disputes were dealt with by the courts in this area and the litigant in such cases had to deposit a large sum of money would abide by the decisions of the court.’ (1)

And that …

‘The withdrawal of the RIC encouraged certain elements amongst the people to take advantage of the situation and indulge in petty robberies and give vent to troubles over land disputes which had been simmering for some time. The volunteers decided they would stop this sort of thing and stop it they did and, although they could only devote their spare time to police work, they did it more effectively than ever the RIC did, because they had they had the confidence and good will of the people.’

In July 1920 he was present at the unsuccessful attempt to capture Streamstown RIC station. When the police evacuated the barracks shortly afterwards, Daly burned the building to prevent reoccupation. In October that year he was one of 20 volunteers who attacked a military boat on the Shannon at Coosan. Later that month he helped James Tormey establish a Brigade flying column which launched an attack at Parkwood while Daly was acquiring grenades in Dublin.

Like many members of the Westmeath IRA, Daly believed that road blocking by the neighbouring Offaly Brigade had sabotaged an attack on a military lorry at Kilvarvan bridge, Tubbrit in early 1921.

Detailed by GHQ organiser Simon Donnelly to reorganise the IRA in north Westmeath, he was captured in April 1921. Imprisoned at Athlone and the Curragh, he escaped by tunnel in September and re-joined the IRA.

Active on the anti-Treaty side during the Civil War. He was present at Moate in November 1922, when his comrade Christopher ‘Kit’ McKeon was killed in the gunfight with a Free State officer. In February 1923, Daly and his column surrendered their arms and returned home following imprisoned republican leader Liam Deasy’s appeal for  an end to the Civil War.

He served in the Local Defence Force during the Emergency. On his death in March 1970 the veterans of the Athlone Brigade provided a guard of honour to his graveside where Seamus O’Meara gave the oration.


Sources:

Military Service Pension Collection: David Daly MSP34REF2297. Search online at https://www.militaryarchives.ie/collections/online-collections/military-service-pensions-collection-1916-1923

Bureau of Military History Statements. David Daly (Witness 1337). Thomas Costello (Witness 1296). Seamus O’Meara (Witness 1504). Search online at https://www.militaryarchives.ie/collections/online-collections/bureau-of-military-history-1913-1921/bmhsearch/

Daniel Murray. ‘Sieges and Shootings: The decline of the RIC in Westmeath, 1920’ online at https://www.theirishstory.com/2015/09/03/sieges-and-shootings-the-decline-of-the-ric-in-westmeath-1920/#.ZA0FFnbP3re

Westmeath County Council Decades of Centenary Blog ‘Police Stations attacked in Westmeath’ online at https://www.westmeathcoco.ie/en/ourservices/planning/conservationheritage/decadeofcentenariesblog/policestationsattackedinwestmeath.html

Westmeath County Council Decades of Centenary Blog ‘A time of war’ online at https://www.westmeathcoco.ie/en/ourservices/planning/conservationheritage/decadeofcentenariesblog/atimeofwar.html

Cork Examiner 7 April 1920.

Offaly Independent. 14 August 1920. 4 April 1970.

Irish Independent 23 March 1970.

Westmeath Examiner 4 April 1970.

Westmeath Independent 10 February 1923. 6 July 1940.

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