Irish Land League
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]
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.
[iii] Mayo News September 26th 2007
[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.