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.
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”.
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.
What were people saying when they put pen to paper to write letters on St Patrick’s day in 1916?
Thanks to the Letters of 1916-1923 database, we can get a snapshot of the words written on this day a century ago.
A quick look at the letters written on this day, shows us a letter written by Denis Hurley to his brother John. Originally from Tawnies, near Clonakilty in Co. Cork, Denis emigrated to Carson City in Nevada in 1873. In the letter, Denis thanks John for “the bunch of shamrocks”. Isn’t it amazing that the shamrock survived the journey!?
In a third letter, Alexander G. Crawford writes to Matthew Nathan discussing a local school principal from Coleraine. The principal in question has had a very positive effect in his forty five years of service, even going so far as to pay for the up keep of the school from his own purse.
If you find any more St Patrick’s Day letters in the collection, let us know!
Letters written by Patrick or Patricia in the Letters of 1916 collection
As it’s St Patrick’s Day, we had a look through the Letters of 1916 collection in search of letters written by people named Patrick or Patricia.
We found only one Patricia in the whole collection:
Patricia Lynch (1894-1972) was an Irish nationalist and supporter of the suffragette movement. While living in London she befriended Sylvia Pankhurst who reportedly sent her to Dublin in the aftermath of the 1916 Rising to gain an eyewitness account for the Worker’s Dreadnought. Her piece in the Worker’s Dreadnought was later reprinted as part of a pamphlet entitled Rebel Ireland published by the Workers’ Socialist Federation.
A letter from Patrick Langford Beazley to his son Piaras Béaslaí wishing him a happy St. Patrick’s day. This letter discusses the number of men who’ve ‘gone to the colours’ or enlisted with the British Army. Patrick also writes of the ‘terrible’ death of W. McCarthy, who perished in a car accident.
A letter written by Patrick Pearse, one of the executed leaders of the 1916 Rising, in December 1915. The letter was probably written to the printer Joseph Michael Stanley, and refers to the printing of Christmas cards.
A letter from Patrick Carphin, a native of Rathgar in Dublin, to his sister. Carphin gives a detailed description of the Easter Rising as he saw it and tells how he and his daughter were wounded by crossfire.
In this letter, Patrick Clarke writes regarding his fourteen year old son, Patrick James Clarke (b. 1902), who has a ‘horror for school.’ Patrick hopes to get his son on a naval training ship, as his job takes him out of the home and the boy’s mother is unable to keep him out of trouble.
A letter from Patrick Foran, an Irish prisoner of war in Germany. Foran thanks Lady Clonbrock for a parcel of socks she had sent him. Augusta Caroline Dillon (née Crofton) was 75 years old at the outbreak of the First World War. She worked closely with the Irish Women’s Association to send basic necessities to Irish POWs. Many of her care packages went to members of the Connaught Rangers imprisoned in Limburg near Cologne.
8th March is International Women’s Day and people around the world are celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. To mark the day, we would like to highlight some of the women from the Letters of 1916 collection. You can use the search engine on the top of this page or the “author” filter on our browse page to read their correspondence.
In addition, we have launched an appeal for information about the women in the Charlie Daly collection – click to read more!
We need your detective skills to help us find out more information about the women in the Daly collection which we recently acquired from the Kerry Library Archives. We have already processed some of the Daly letters which are available to read and transcribe. We are working to get the rest of this expansive collection online.
The letters 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 explored the collection, we discovered that women comprise approximately 70% of the correspondence. Although extensive research has been conducted in Charlie Daly’s background and life story, many of the women within the network remain unknown.
What we know so far
Throughout his life, Charlie Daly regularly corresponded with his mother, Ellen Daly, but his sisters and female friends of the family also exchanged letters with him and with each other.
The women in Daly’s network pursued different careers. For example:
Katie Maria O’Sullivan, a distant cousin of the Dalys, was a teacher at a local school
Katherine (Kattie) Allman entered a religious order and became known as Sr. Gertrude.
One thing which they all had in common was that they actively responded to the events of their time, for instance Mary Daly (May), Charlie’s oldest sister, was active in the Irish Republican movement and ran as an election candidate in North Kerry for Sinn Féin in the 1957 general election.
We have added what we know so far to the table below. If you can help us fill in any of the gaps, please get in touch.
Also known as
Date of birth
Date of death
Information to date
mother of Charlie Daly
mother of Ellen Daly
sister of Charlie Daly
Susan Casey; Susie Daly; Susie Casey
sister of Charlie Daly
sister of Charlie Daly
Nellie Daly; Ellen Mary
sister of Charlie Daly
sister of Charlie Daly
Katie Maria O’Sullivan
teacher at local school and distant cousin of the Daly family
sister of Katie Maria
Elizabeth Daly; Lizzie Daly
neighbour of the Daly family
Kattie Allman; Sr Gertrude; Cáit
friend of the Daly family / Catholic nun
friend of the Daly family
friend of Charlie Daly / possibly from Kingstown/Dún Laoghaire
friend of the family / possibly from Daisyhill
Mrs Mary Kelly
friend of Charlie Daly
Share your information with us
You can see that there are lots of gaps in the table above & we hope you can help us to fill in these gaps!
There are a number of different ways to get in touch with us to share any leads you might have. You can:
St. Valentine’s Day is widely celebrated on 14 February each year with e-cards and gifts of roses and chocolates, often ordered on the internet. Within this context, love letters, sent by ordinary post, might seem old-fashioned and nostalgic. In 1916, however, love letters were sometimes one of the only ways of expressing feelings to loved ones, especially those at a distance.
The Letters of 1916-1923 project contains the written words and the forgotten words of ordinary people during during this extraordinary time in Irish history. Love letters are part of this picture too. For the day that’s in it, we have chosen some LOVE(ly) highlights from the collection.
Postcard from Thomas Murphy to his sister Anna Murphy
Michael Gorman and Susan Fitzgerald came from very different backgrounds. He spent his early years with ten siblings, in a large thatched cottage on the family farm of Ballinalug on the northern slopes of the Slieve Bloom Mountains near Clara Hill. She grew up on the other side of the mountains, in a large house called Raheenahone, near Stradbally.
What made their relationship so special was the fact that she was Church of Ireland Protestant and he was Catholic. As a consequence, neither family wanted the other, and Michael and Sue had to spend half a decade meeting in secret and exchanging letters in what was a love affair that would last all their lives.
Letter from May Fay to James Finn,14 February 1916
This letter comes from a series written between James Finn and his fiancée Mary (May) Fay. They became engaged in January 1916 and married in June. He lived in Dublin, she in Westmeath. At 39 years of age, he was 20 years her senior. He had become acquainted with her during his regular visits to his relative Mrs Mary Seery, her neighbour. Throughout the correspondence, their relationship develops from their first somewhat tentative letters.
Tessa Finn is one of the individual (as opposed to institutional) contributors to the Letters of 1916. She shared this collection of letters between her grandparents, which she describes as “a document of their love and their time.”
As Tessa writes: “These letters between James Finn and May Fay, most of them written in 1916, are part of my family’s inheritance, lovingly treasured by my grandmother, May. She had every reason to cling on to these reminders of the love of her life, my grandfather James Finn. They were married not quite six years when he died leaving her, twenty-five years old and seven months pregnant with their fourth child. They are a document of their love and their time.”
We are delighted to be nominated for a DH Award for our public engagement in 2017!
The Digital Humanities Awards are a set of annual awards where the public is able to nominate resources for the recognition of talent and expertise in the digital humanities community. The resources are nominated and voted for entirely by the public.
You can vote for your favourite DH projects until 25 February 2018.
If you’ve transcribed with us, donated a letter to the collection or used the Letters 1916-1923 database for your work, please consider voting for us in the Public Engagement section of the DH Awards website: