James Daly

Irish Land League

James Daly.
Imperial Hotel, Castlebar
Author's Personal Photo
Imperial Hotel Sign.
Author's Personal Photo
James Daly House plus Connacht Telegraph office.
Author's Personal Photo
Castlebar Seal
Noel Campbell

This Irish nationalist was a strong defender of tenant’s rights.  He founded the Irish Land League in Castlebar.

James Daly was born, the eldest son of eight children into a farming family during 1838 at Cloonabinna, Boughadoon, Co. Mayo. Shortly following his birth the family moved to Coachfield, Belcarra. He received his education from the Franciscian Brothers at Errew Monastery.


His political career began during 1869.   He won a Seat on Castlebar Board of Guardians in the Breaffy Electoral Division. In later years he succeeded his father as a Guardian for Litterbrian, Ballina Division. He also served on Castlebar Urban District Council and Mayo County Council.  [i]

Land League

As a defender of local tenants He published articles of their grievances in his newspaper. Following 1878 he abandoned this policy then publically organized Meetings. This resulted in the formation of the Irish Land League at Daly’s Hotel, Castlebar, Co. Mayo. He organized Meetings both in Louisburgh during 1875 plus a further one in Westport on June 8th 1879.  During 1879 Daly was elected Chairman of the Westport Land League meeting at which Parnell and Davitt spoke.  Daly became Vice– President of the Land League of Mayo on August 16th.  In that same year on October 21st he was elected to the Irish National Land League Committee at its foundation in Dublin.  [ii] James Daly’s evidence to Lord Bessbrough’s Commission in 1880  strongly influenced Bessbrough to recommend radical Land Reform in Ireland with the response by Prime Minister Gladstone to enact the Land Act of 1881 that granted Tenants the 3F’s – Fair Rent, Free Sale and Fixture of Tenure.  [iii]


James Daly became part-owner with Alfred O’Hea of the Connaught Telegraph Newspaper: with the demise of O’Dea in 1879 Daly became proprietor and editor. He was credited with being an exemplary editor until he sold the business to an employee T. H. Gillespie during 1888. He returned to his family’s origins of full – time farming.  [iv]

Daly lived in Spenser Street Castlebar with his wife and family. He died on 25th March 1911.

Quotes: “I am a Land Leaguer myself – I would not be a Land Leaguer if it had anything behind it like Revolution.  I would fight against it.”   (To the Bessborough Commission, 1880) also “Truly is the dawn of freedom appearing – truly the emancipation of the tenant farmers of Ireland. The South is awakening but surely.” (From the Connacht Telegraph on 6th December 1879 following his release from Sligo prison re comments at Gurteen.  [v] See article Gurteen Three  [vi]


According to Gerald Moran “His input into activities which changed the course of Irish history has never been fully recognized.”   [vii]

William O ‘Brien described Daly as ‘a rough spoken giant with an inexhaustible fund of knowledge of the people and of the quaintest mother wit. ‘ (Fr. Kevin Hegarty, Second Reading, page 25. (Mayo News, 15th October 2019)

During July 2015 the Connaught Telegraph moved to new offices at James Daly House on Main Street, Castlebar, Co Mayo.


Tom Gillespie in his column ‘The County Town’ in the Connaught Telegraph, 17th March 2020, mentioned James Daly plus his contribution to the Land League also his career as Editor & Proprietor of the Connaught Telegraph newspaper. He described him as ‘a staunch Catholic conservative totally against violence & drink, especially poteen.’

James Daly was mentioned on pages 45 – 47 in ‘Addeegoole Its Land and People’ 2000 Donohue Tony Carraig Print Ltd.

Johnny Mee in his Column ‘Auld Stock’  in ‘The Connaught Telegraph’ dated 28th September 2021 on page 27 referred to now as a ‘Time to honour James Daly.’

[i] www.mayoireland.ie

[ii] www.mayoireland.ie

[iii] Mayo News September 26th 2007

[iv] www.mayoireland.ie

[v] www.mayoireland.ie

[vi] www.wikipedia.org

[vii] “The rise and fall of the Land League in the west of Ireland 1879 – 1882, “Moran Gerard 1992 in the Irish Historical Studies 29, pgs 189 -207.


Comments about this page

  • We were brought up with the heroic and humble storys of our great grand Uncle James Daly over dinner and gatherings over the Piano in the Parlour of his nephew Charles J. Daly & wife Kathleen Nestor, once of the GLEBE House Belcarra . In their new found Parlour of the 1950’s, Summerhill, Kilcock, Co.Kildare. Growing up , I was sent to school with the storys and focleoir of James Daly and his participation in the Land League, but it was never published in our school books and seemed ridiculous in the 1980’s to the acting Teachers. I used to think it was an urban myth until the latter years the Connaght telegraph published the history and founders of the same. So much history and passion dedicated to supporting the local people of Mayo and Ireland. Hopefully we have carried the family gene and trait forward of good will to all of our surrounding , neighbours, family and community near and far, at home and abroad.

    By Monica Daly (24/04/2021)
  • Thank you Paul for kind comment.

    By Noelene Beckett Crowe (14/02/2018)
  • Excellent contribution, Noelene.

    By Paul McNulty (07/02/2018)

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