The Charlie Daly Collection


Greeting card from the Daly collection
Greeting card from the Daly collection

The letters in the Charlie Daly collection concern Irish republican Charlie Daly, who rejected the peace treaty with Britain and was subsequently captured and imprisoned at Drumboe Castle in County Donegal, where he was executed on 14 March 1923.

As we’ve explored the collection, one very interesting feature which has emerged is the fact that women comprise approximately 70% of the correspondence. Despite extensive research in Charlie Daly’s story and family, many of the women within the network remain unknown.


We are currently appealing to our community to help us find out more information about the women in the Daly collection, which we recently acquired from Kerry Library Archives. We have already processed some of the Daly letters and invite you to read and transcribe them.

One visually attractive letter is a greeting card in Celtic design, sent by Mary McFadden in December 1922.

Christmas card from Mary McFadden to Charlie Daly, inside

Christmas card from Mary McFadden to Charlie Daly, cover page

Christmas card from Mary McFadden to Charlie Daly, back cover

In his letters to his mother Ellen, Charlie Daly discusses his reaction to the Anglo-Irish Treaty. His mother divulges information about the situation in Kerry during his imprisonment. She also discusses her other children in letters to Charlie, e.g. the imprisonment of his brothers, Thomas and William, in Tralee, and his sister Susan, who is studying to be a teacher in Dublin. The collection also includes Ellen Daly’s correspondence right after Charlie’s execution.

We are looking forward to sharing more letters from this expansive collection soon.

About the Project

Letters 1916-1923 is Ireland’s first participatory digital humanities project. Begun in September 2013 as Letters 1916, in 2017 it expanded its collection period to the end of the Civil War through a generous grant from the Irish Research Council.

This digital collection includes letters held at institutions in Ireland and abroad alongside those in private collections. There are thousands of letters connecting hundreds of lives commenting a wide range of topics, from wars and violence at home and abroad including the Easter Rising, The Great War, The Anglo-Irish and Civil War, literature and art, love, politics, business, and ordinary life. Letters 1916-1923 adds a new perspective to the events of the period, a confidential and intimate glimpse into early 20th Century life in Ireland, as well as how Ireland was viewed abroad.

Join us in creating this unique resource. Share letters with us or transcribe previously deposited letters. To learn how to get involved, see the Get Involved tab above
Continue reading About the Project

“A mháthair dhílis” – Ellen Daly’s correspondence with her children


On International Women’s Day, we drew your attention to the extensive and exciting Charlie Daly Collection from County Kerry because the majority of correspondents in this collection were female.


Charlie Daly (Cormac) to his mother Ellen, 30th June 1922
Charlie Daly (Cormac) to his mother Ellen, 30th June 1922, Charlie Daly Collection P41/2/1/13, Kerry County Archives

One particularly prolific letter-writer in the Daly family was in fact Ellen Daly, Charlie Daly’s mother, who took a keen interest in Charlie Daly’s republican engagement and the activities of all her children.

She was the family’s centre of communication and ensured that her sons and daughters, as well as their many friends, were well informed of what was going on in the others’ lives.

Charlie Daly (signing his name ‘Cormac’) frequently addressed her as “a mháthair dhílis” (‘loyal mother’) and kept writing to her although he wasn’t sure that his letters would actually reach her:

Letter P41/6/1/6 from the Kerry County Archives was written by Ellen Daly to her daughter Susan and shows her fond relationship with all her children. Ellen Daly addresses Susan’s health problems and her upcoming final examinations, but she also talks about the many relatives and friends who join them in remembering “poor Charlie”.

Ellen Daly to her daughter Susan Daly, May 8th 1923
Ellen Daly to her daughter Susan Daly, May 8th 1923, Charlie Daly Collection P41/6/1/6, Kerry County Archives

After several months of imprisonment in County Donegal, Charlie Daly was executed in March 1923. Ellen Daly’s letter to Susan is dated May 8th 1923 and marked by the family’s shared grief over Charlie’s death.

However, Mrs Daly also relates good news to her daughter. The family’s friend Kattie Allman, another prominent correspondent in the Daly Collection, has finally taken her religious vows and is now called Sr. Gertrude. This letter is a fine example of the many social connections which the Daly family shared, and it encapsulates the mother’s prominent role in this interesting network.

We welcome your help in finding out more about the women who corresponded with Charlie Daly.

Transcription Progress: March 2018


In March 2018 you transcribed 101006 characters in total.

In March 2018 the total number of registered users in the system is 2029.

Currently 4372 letters have been uploaded to the system, of which 3903 are available to view and transcribe online. You can explore the completed and fully transcribed letters in more detail here.

THANK YOU All for contributing to the Letters 1916-1923 Project!


  • 4372 letters uploaded to the system, of which 3903 have been made public to date (31 March 2018)
  • 0 new letters uploaded to the system since 28 Februay 2018 due to changes in the upload process

STATUS of the letters:

  • Transcriptions not started: 23 letters
  • Transcriptions in progress: 8 letters
  • Transcriptions that need proofing and reviewing: 1122 letters
  • Transcriptions proofed and completed: 2750 letters


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