‘I remember the tears streaming down Bishop Daly’s face when we met Pope John Paul II’

Bishop Edward Daly pictured with the Colmcille Ladies Choir and Pope John Paul II when they travelled to Rome to celebrate his Silver Jubilee in 1982.
Bishop Edward Daly pictured with the Colmcille Ladies Choir and Pope John Paul II when they travelled to Rome to celebrate his Silver Jubilee in 1982.

Members of the Colmcille Ladies’ Choir have recalled the emotion felt by Bishop Edward Daly when they travelled with him to Rome on the occasion of his Silver Jubilee.

Ursula Clifford who was one of the original members of the choir which was formed back in 1970 said: “We had a private audience with Pope John Paul II,

“We had to climb so many steps to the Pope’s private chapel. It was 6.30 in the morning. I remember the tears running down Bishop Daly’s face with pride when we sang.

“Afterwards, the Pope got his picture taken with every single person and we all got a pair of rosary beads which we still treasure.”

Members of the choir, which recently celebrated its 45th anniversary, said their trip to Rome in 1982 to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of Bishop Daly’s ordination to the priesthood was one of their most memorable.

And it was Bishop Daly who sowed the seeds for the formation of the choir, which has now travelled across the world and performed for the likes of Bill Clinton, Pope John Paul II and even Paul Newman.

In 1970, Bishop Daly called a meeting asking musicians, singers and people interested in drama to come to a meeting in St Columb’s Hall to try to breathe some new life into the city. Three things happened after that meeting. A pantomime committee was formed, the ‘71 Players were established and the Colmcille Ladies Choir held their first rehearsal - in St Columb’s Hall.

Just recently in an article in the ‘Derry Journal’ Bishop Edward Daly described the Colmcille Ladies’ Choir as a “wonderful group of women.”

“This group did exactly what I hoped they would,” he said. “It gives me so much joy that they are singing as well now as they were 45 years ago. The group was formed to help local women have a release from the drudgery of life in the 1970s. They’ve been all over the world and I’ve been able to travel with them. I remember our trip to the Vatican - and the Pope really enjoyed that. This choir has been a great part of my life and I am delighted to see they are still going strong.”