Bishop Daly’s housekeeper pays tribute to her ‘good friend’

Betty Doherty, (front row, far left) at the Guildhall with Bishop Edward Daly and his family and former Mayor of Derry,  Brenda Stevenson, before the Conferring of the Freedom of the City on Bishop James Mehaffey and Bishop Daly.
Betty Doherty, (front row, far left) at the Guildhall with Bishop Edward Daly and his family and former Mayor of Derry, Brenda Stevenson, before the Conferring of the Freedom of the City on Bishop James Mehaffey and Bishop Daly.

Bishop Daly’s housekeeper has spoken about the death of her “good friend” who, she says, she was privileged to have known.

Bishop Daly’s housekeeper has spoken about the death of her “good friend” who, she says, she was privileged to have known.

Betty Doherty shakes hands with Irish President Michael D. Higgins at Bishop Dalys funeral. Photo Lorcan Doherty/Press Eye

Betty Doherty shakes hands with Irish President Michael D. Higgins at Bishop Dalys funeral. Photo Lorcan Doherty/Press Eye

Betty Doherty first started work as housekeeper to Bishop Edward Daly in 1989.

The Creggan woman admits that, after seeing Bishop Daly almost every day for the last 26 years, it will take some time to come to terms with the fact that he is gone.

“He was a good friend and I was privileged to have known him all these years,” says Betty.

“It’s very sad and, to be honest, it still hasn’t sunk in yet - that he’s gone.”

He was a good friend and I was privileged to have known him all these years

Bishop Daly’s housekeeper, Betty Doherty

Before going to work for Bishop Daly, Betty was housekeeper to Fr John Convery in Strathfoyle.

But, when he retired, Betty needed a job and it was suggested she ring the Bishop’s office.

Not only did Betty find a good job when she made that phone call, she also found a home when she arrived at the house in Steelstown.

“I’m here 26 years but it doesn’t seem that long,” says Betty.

“The first day I came into this house, it felt like home.”

Betty was aware that being housekeeper for the Bishop was a big deal, but she says he never made himself out to be important.

“He was a great companion,” says Betty, “and he liked to know there was always someone in the house.”

Betty was lucky to be there during some of the biggest moments of Bishop Daly’s life and she was also there when he fell ill.

“When his health failed, it was hard for him because he was always on the go,” says Betty.

But there were plenty of happy times, too, when Betty was there with the rest of Bishop Daly’s family, including the day he received the Freedom of the City with Bishop James Mehaffey in 2015.

Betty also recalls the day, 16 years ago, when the Bishop welcomed a new resident into the household.

Bishop Daly had been to the hospital for a scan.

When he arrived home, sitting on the doorstep was a scrawny, ginger kitten.

“Bishop Daly had a scan at the hospital and he got the all-clear, so he christened the kitten ‘Scan’,” says Betty, with a smile, “and that was it.

“Scan walked around the grounds with him when he was saying the Rosary every afternoon.”

Betty said Bishop Daly loved Scan, so much so that, during the last two weeks of his life, he would ask about his furry friend from hospital bed.

Betty says the outpouring of support from the people of Derry and beyond towards Bishop Daly has given great comfort to his immediate family and to her.

She also says she was extremely touched to be included in proceedings at his Requiem Mass.

Betty says Bishop Daly would have loved the music at his Requiem Mass, although she’s not sure what the man, who didn’t like fuss, would have made of all the attention.

“But even in his death he brought more people into the Church in a week,” says Betty. “That’s what I think anyway.”

Betty describes Bishop Daly as an easy, undemanding employer who liked plain food, and the simple things in life “and he made my job easy”.

“He always used to say I was the boss,” says Betty, smiling, “but I don’t know.”

Betty says life will be very different for her now, but she says she feels blessed to have had 26 years in a job that was a joy.

Deeply saddened by the death of her good friend, Bishop Edward Daly, Betty says he is at peace now.

“He wanted to go and he was ready to go,” says Betty.