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.
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:
2018 marked 100 years since Irish women over the age of 30 were granted the right to vote. The Letters 1916-1923 collection contains correspondence relating to the struggle for increased women’s rights and we have chosen some interesting highlights from the collection.
Sheehy Skeffington Papers
The largest selection of Letters 1916-1923 relating to women’s suffrage is from the National Library of Ireland‘s Sheehy Skeffington Papers. Hanna Sheehy Skeffington (1877-1946), suffragette, nationalist, language teacher, was the founder of the Irish Women’s Franchise League and a founding member of the Irish Women Workers’ Union. She was active during the 1916 Rising – she brought food to the Volunteers in the G.P.O. and the College of Surgeons. She was married to Francis Sheehy-Skeffington (1878-1916) who was summarily executed on 26 April 1916. Four days passed before she found out what had happened to her husband and it wasn’t until almost two weeks later that the full details of his execution emerged. In 1916, Hanna Sheehy Skeffington was organising a concert to raise funds for The Irish Citizen newspaper. There is a series of postcards and letters relating to the concert – just search for Hanna Sheehy Skeffington on the Letters 1916-1923 site to read them.
This special guest podcast episode was recorded by Letters 1916 interns, Emily Blackburn and Madison Ganson, from Beloit College, Wisconsin. The episode focuses on Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, the Irish Citizen newspaper, and the pursuit of Irish labour rights.
Eva Gore-Booth was a poet, trade unionist, suffragist, and an active social campaigner, mostly on women’s issues. She was a contributor to the Irish literary revival from the late 1890s. She was active in the campaign for a reprieve of her sister, Constance Markievicz’s death sentence for her participation in the Easter Rising and for the improvement of her prison conditions.
In this letter to Helena Molony (1883-1967), Eva Gore-Booth enquires about Molony and the rules regarding letters and visitors and refers to her sister, Constance as well as other female prisoners, Dr Kathleen Lynn and Madeleine French-Mullen.
My sister says man never made a wall but God threw a gap in it as an old woman used to say at home
The Letters 1916-1923 collection includes a large number of letters from the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland Archives. From 1910 until 1954 Thomas Percy Kirkpatrick (1869-1954) served as the registrar for the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. He also served as the general secretary of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland. Kirkpatrick took a particular interest in what were then termed venereal diseases (now sexually transmitted diseases). To encourage his patients to attend, he held a clinic for women at Steevens’ hospital at a discreet early morning hour to facilitate anonymity.
Read more about Thomas Kirkpatrick in this blog post by Harriet Wheelock.
This letter from the RCPI Archives was written by Ishbel Maria Gordon (1857-1939) and is written on ‘Women’s National Health Association of Ireland’ headed paper. Gordon was a philanthropist and Marchioness of Aberdeen and Temair. In 1893 she was elected president of the nascent International Congress of Women, a federation of women’s organisations. In this role (1893–9 and 1904–36) she played a major part in building up its international network (and rebuilding it after the first world war). She was also president of the Women’s Liberal Federation, 1901–6, which eventually split over her support for women’s suffrage.
There are many more letters in the Letters 1916-1923 which are related to the struggle for women’s rights and women’s issues in the 1916-1923 period. Visit our website to find more.
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