Royal Irish Academy

A Revolution in Profiles - Co. Offaly

In association with The Royal Irish Academy

Patrick/Paddy Gabriel Daly 1898-1983

Paddy Daly was born in Ferbane in 1898. His father James was a retired RIC man from Roscommon, His mother Mary was a member of a longstanding Ferbane business family the Whitfields.

The Dalys operated a public house. In 1918, his older sister Josephine died during the Spanish Flu epidemic while nursing in Dublin.  Paddy’s brothers James (Sonny) and Frank served as IRA officers during the War of Independence. The family was closely associated with the local GAA club.

Educated in the Cistercian Collage Roscrea, he joined the Ferbane company of the Irish Volunteers on their formation in 1917. In 1918 he travelled to Liverpool where his brother Fr. John served as a priest. Shortly after his arrival in Britain he joined a local company of the volunteers at Bootle and was inducted into the IRB.

Republican activity in the city centred around arms trafficking and was coordinated by Neil Kerr a longstanding Liverpool IRB man whose sons had fought in the 1916 rising. Arms and ammunition were purchased illicitly in cities across the north of England and Scotland then spirted on to ships anchored on Liverpool docks and smuggled in Ireland.

As part of this network Daly travelled as far as Glasgow to collect material and on occasion delivered weapons to their couriers who were often sympathetic sailors. As the War continued Liverpool became a clearing house for munitions sourced in New York, Hamburg, Genoa, and Buenos Aires. The Liverpool IRB also arranged covert travel arrangements for high profile republicans like Liam Mellows and Eamon de Valera throughout the conflict.

In 1920, IRA in Britain carried out a series of arson attacks on large farms and the homes of those involved in the Black and Tans. In November of that year Daly took part in an operation to burn warehouses on the Liverpool docks, causing considerable damage. Neil Kerr Jr had been accidentally shot dead in September and Kerr Sr was arrested in the roundups which followed the dockside burnings.

Michael Collins appointed Daly to take control off the gun running operation, but his elevation to North England representative on the Supreme Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood was resented by older Liverpudlian revolutionaries. Early in 1921 Daly accidently shot himself in the thigh and spent two weeks hospital.

The Liverpool connection continued to operate throughout the Truce. During a police raid Daly’s name was found on documents connected with arms smuggling and he was forced to adopt an alias.

In November 1921, customs uncovered 10 Thompson sub machine guns and 14 handguns on Liverpool docks. The discovery did not result in any political ramifications during the ongoing Treaty negotiations.

Daly took an anti-Treaty position, but continued violence in Northern Ireland meant that the spilt in the republican movement was far from absolute. In February 1923, Michael Collins dispatched members of his squad to Liverpool where they worked with Daly on a plan to assassinate two English hangmen assigned to execute IRA men in Derry Gaol.

While the operation was aborted after a series of mishaps, the Derry prisoners later received a reprieve.

Captured in the Four Courts at the beginning of the Civil War, he escaped almost immediately. Travelling to west Offaly, he linked up with local anti-Treaty forces and remained on the run until after the dump arms order in May 1923.

Having studied at Trinity, he later qualified as doctor. Joining the Irish Army in 1938 as a medical officer, Daly retired from duty in 1963. On his death in June 1983, he was buried at Deansgrange cemetery after mass at the church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook.

The author wishes to acknowledge Gerard Noonans existing work on in the revolutionary period in Britain .


1901 and 1911 Census. Search online at

Bureau of Military History Statements. Paddy. G. Daly Witness 814. Search online at

Military Service Pension File. Patrick Gabriel Daly MSP34REF9255. Search online at

Gerard Noonan. The IRA in Britain 1919-23: In the heart of enemy lines. (Liverpool) 2014.

Brendan Ryan ‘The Dear Old Town: A history of Ferbane’ (Ferbane) 2002.

Evening Herald. 2 November 1918.

Irish Independent. 3 June 1983.

Offaly Independent. 18 June 1953.

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