James Daly

Irish Land League

James Daly.
www.castlebar.ie
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

Irish Land League

This Irish nationalist was a strong defender of tenant’s rights.  He founded the Irish Land League in Castlebar. He was Newspaper Editor, Farmer also a local Politician.

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. By the standards of the nineteenth century the Daly family were relatively prosperous as they held interests in four different farms that including one at Ballyshane, near Breaffy. [i]

Daly, James (1836?–1911) was born at Boghadoon, parish of Addergoole, Co. Mayo.  He was the  second son of Charles Daly (d. 1869) who was a tenant farmer, hotelier, also a Poor Law Guardian.[ii]

Family

He had a brother Charles.  He had a son James: later an Accountant with Mayo County Council.[iii]

James Daly lived in Spenser Street Castlebar with his wife & family.[iv]

He was married & had one son also two daughters.[v]

Education

He received his education from the Franciscan Brothers at Errew Monastery.[vi]

He was educated at national school also at the Franciscan Friary at Errew near Castlebar.[vii]

Farming

During the 1840’s & 1850’s James Daly acted as bailiff.  He leased one hundred & twenty acres of pasture on Harriet Gardiner’s Estate in the parish of Breaghwy in the 1860s.  He held stock farms throughout Mayo until the 1900’s.[viii]

Politics

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 & Mayo County Council.[ix]

Daly’s first venture into politics occurred during May 1869.  He won a seat on the Castlebar Poor Law Board following his father’s demise.[x]

Funding

In 1875 James Daly set up public meetings near Castlebar in order to raise money for the erection of a monument to French soldiers who were killed during 1798.[xi]

Mayo Farmers’ Club

Daly helped to establish a Mayo Farmers’ Club on 26th October 1878.  They proposed to ‘secure the tenant farmers of Mayo against capricious eviction & rack – renting.’ [xii]

Land League

As a defender of local tenants James Daly 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 with a further one in Westport on June 8th  1879.  During 1879 Daly was elected Chairman of the Westport Land League meeting at which Parnell & Davitt were Speakers.[xiii]

The origins of the Irishtown land demonstration have been enveloped in controversy since the publication of Davitt’s memoirs (1904) but Daly was clearly the principal organiser.  James Daly Presided at the meeting in Claremorris on January 1879. it was made memorable by the enthusiastic attendance of about 10,000 people.  Also his declaration that ‘land-grabbers’ were as culpable as unjust landlords. ‘The Telegraph’ broadcast the claims & demands of the meeting within Connacht.  On 8th June Daly Chaired the Westport meeting at which Parnell spoke.  Daly participated in over one hundred land meetings throughout the West between May 1879 & May 1880.[xiv]

Again during 1875 Daly appealed for tenant organisation & solidarity in the west; where bodies such as the short – lived Tenant Defence Association (TDA), that he had helped form in Louisburgh, it had traditionally been scarce & unassertive.  The last major episode in which Daly participated  specifically in the Land League campaign was the ostracization of the farm & household of Captain Charles Boycott of Lough Mask during September / October 1880.  He personally intervened to maintain calmness.[xv]

Bessborough Commission

James Daly’s evidence to Lord Bessborough’s Commission in 1880 strongly influenced Bessborough 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 & Fixture of Tenure. (26th September 2007) [xvi]

Daly was delighted to testify at the Bessborough Commission of Inquiry during August 1880.  Though it was boycotted by the Land League: he amassed a large amount of evidence in support of injustices on Mayo Estates. ‘The Telegraph’ published accusations that the League was composed of ‘self-seeking men ambitious for notoriety’ during June & July.[xvii]

New Positions

Daly became Vice – President of the Land League of Mayo on August 16th.  In that same year 1879 on October 21st he was elected to the Irish National Land League Committee at its foundation in Dublin.[xviii]

He obtained a place on the Executive Committee of the National Land League of Mayo that was established in the family hotel in Castlebar on 16th August 1879.  The Manifesto called for peasant proprietorship.[xix]

Business

James Daly became part-owner with Alfred O’ Hea of ‘The Connaught Telegraph’ newspaper.  During 1879 with the demise of O’Dea Daly became Proprietor & Editor.  He was credited with being an exemplary Editor. He sold the business to an employee T. H. Gillespie during 1888.[xx]

Together with Alfred O’Hea he purchased during February 1876 ‘The Connaught Telegraph’ newspaper.  James Daly resuscitated the Connaught Telegraph (a Castlebar weekly newspaper defunct since 1870) primarily ‘to advocate the cause of the poor struggling tenantry’.  Stern editorials called for Mayo farmers to imitate a robust Tenant Association set up in Ballinasloe during May 1876 by radical local Fenians.  Both Editors participated in the Association.  They also appeared on the platform at public meetings.[xxi]

Orator

Daly’s speeches & editorials exhibited a characteristic mix of noisy nationalist sentiment with a deep concern for smallholders threatened with eviction, oppressively high rents, also capitalist agricultural practices.[xxii]

Farm Origins

He returned to his family’s origins of full – time farming.[xxiii]

Civic Duties

James Daly continued as a highly active Member of the Castlebar Board of Poor Law Guardians.  He served in Positions as Vice – Chairman in 1881/ 2, also Chairman during 1892 to 1898).  He was a member of Castlebar Town Commissioners.  Late he was elected for the Castlebar Urban District Council from1899 to 1908.  Between 1896 and 1898 he launched Committees for the commemoration of the 1798 rising in Connacht.  He addressed  the public for the United Irish League as they advocated the redistribution of large ranches to small farmers.[xxiv]

Demise

James Daly’s demise occurred at home on 25th  March 1911.[xxv]

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’ article on 6th December 1879 that followed his release from Sligo prison re comments at Gurteen. (See article Gurteen Three) [xxvi]

Tributes

Moran Gerard 1992 ‘The rise and fall of the Land League in the west of Ireland 1879 – 1882’ was published in ‘Irish Historical Studies’ November 1994 Vol 29 No. 114 Cambridge University Press (pages 189 – 207)  Moran stated that ‘His input into activities which changed the course of Irish history has never been fully recognized.’ The edition may be viewed at this site.[xxvii]

Footnotes

Included are several publications that referenced James Daly:

Jordan Donald 1994 ‘Land and popular politics in Ireland: County Mayo from the plantation to the land war.’

Moody T. W. & Hawkins Richard with Moody Margaret (ed.) Arnold-Forster Florence’s ‘Irish Journal’ 1988

Lee J. J.  ‘The Modernisation of Irish Society 1848 – 1918’  1974

Warwick – Haller Sally ‘William O’Brien and the Irish Land War’ 1990

Feingold W. L. ‘The transformation of Local Government in Ireland, 1872 – 1886’ 1984

O’Brien ‘Recollections’ 1905 pages 224, 231.

Bew Paul 1987 ‘Conflict and Conciliation in Ireland: Parnellites and Radical Agrarians 1890 – 1910’ also 1978  ‘Land and the National Question in Ireland, 1858 – 82’

Legg Marie – Louise 1998 ‘Newspapers and Nationalism: the Irish Provincial Press, 1850 – 1892.’ [xxviii]

Moody T. W.  ‘Davitt and Irish Revolution 1846 – 82’ 1982 Clarendon Press Oxford: https://www.worldcat.org/title/davitt-and-irish-revolution-1846-82/oclc/857853479?referer=di&ht=edition

Moran Gerard ‘The origins and development of boycotting’ in the  Galway Archaeological Society Journal’  ‘Galway Archaeological Society Journal’  1985 / 6 pages 49 / 50, 52, 57.[xxix]

James Daly was grandfather of Mr. Seamus Daly, Mulranny & of the late Mrs. Nollie Mongey, Newport Road.  He was also grand – uncle of District Justice J.F. Garavan, Pontoon Road, Castlebar. (Extracted from ‘James Daly and the rise and fall of the Land League in the West of Ireland’ by Gerald Moran, Department of Modern History, St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth.)[xxx]

Donohue Tony 2000 ‘Addeegoole Its Land and People’ Carraig Print Ltd mentioned James Daly (on pages 45 – 47) [xxxi]

During July 2015 ‘The Connaught Telegraph’ moved to new offices at James Daly House on Main Street, Castlebar, Co Mayo. (NBC)

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

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.’

Bibliography

[i] https://www.mayo-ireland.ie/en/welcome.html

[ii] https://www.dib.ie/biography/daly-james-a2380

[iii]https://www.mayo-ireland.ie/en/about-mayo/history/connaught-telegraph-james-daly.html

[iv] https://www.mayo-ireland.ie/en/welcome.html

[v] https://www.dib.ie/biography/daly-james-a2380

[vi] https://www.mayo-ireland.ie/en/welcome.html

[vii] https://www.dib.ie/biography/daly-james-a2380

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] https://www.mayo-ireland.ie/en/welcome.html

[x] https://www.dib.ie/biography/daly-james-a2380

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] https://www.mayo-ireland.ie/en/welcome.html

[xiv] https://www.dib.ie/biography/daly-james-a2380

[xv] Ibid.

[xvi] https://www.mayonews.ie/comment-opinion/second-reading/2467-james-daly

[xvii] https://www.dib.ie/biography/daly-james-a2380

[xviii] https://www.mayo-ireland.ie/en/welcome.html

[xix] https://www.dib.ie/biography/daly-james-a2380

[xx] https://www.mayo-ireland.ie/en/welcome.html

[xxi] https://www.dib.ie/biography/daly-james-a2380

[xxii] Ibid.

[xxiii] https://www.mayo-ireland.ie/en/welcome.html

[xxiv] https://www.dib.ie/biography/daly-james-a2380

[xxv] https://www.mayo-ireland.ie/en/welcome.html

[xxvi] Ibid.

[xxvii] https://www.jstor.org/stable/30006742

[xxviii] https://www.dib.ie/biography/daly-james-a2380

[xxix] https://www.jstor.org/stable/30006742

[xxx] https://www.mayo-ireland.ie/en/about-mayo/history/connaught-telegraph-james-daly.html

[xxxi] http://www.addergoole-titanic.com/contentPage/199001/historic_addergoole

 

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Comments about this page

  • Monica. That is an very interesting contribution you have provided.
    Your family must indeed be delighted now that James Daly has been honoured in Irish History following so many years of inaction in educational sources for his wonderful compassionate work for the Mayo people & Land League.
    Yes, agree he is due a huge debt of gratitude.

    By Noelene Beckett Crowe (03/04/2022)
  • 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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