Skirting the issue - Mister Bishop do you know my granda?

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In 1987, my primary five class were ushered into the assembly hall at Nazareth House PS by our teacher Patsy Casey to see the important man dressed in black who had come to visit our school.

I have no memory of what he talked to us about, I was only nine.

But what I do remember is how at the end he asked us if we wanted to ask any questions. I promptly stuck my hand up and asked him in my biggest grown up voice: “Mister Bishop, do you know my Granda, William Willie Doherty?”

Apparently I was so loud the hall echoed, and Bishop Daly, ever the gentleman told me that yes, he did know my granda, and he was a very nice man. I was all lured.

Several years later my granny travelled up from Dublin and attended the Columba Day celebrations at the Long Tower.

She was delighted when Bishop Daly stopped to talk to her down at the well and she asked him if he would go in a picture with her, it was a picture she treasured until the day she died.

Much has been written about Bishop Daly since his passing on Monday. His story and his legacy have travelled the world.

The iconic image of him waving the white handkerchief may be the best known image of Bishop Daly, but ultimately what people will remember is how Bishop Daly was with them on a one to one basis. And many of us have a Bishop Daly story to tell. How he always shook your hand, made eye contact and once he met you, he always remembered your name.

When I started working at the ‘Derry Journal’ in 2000, my meetings with Bishop Daly became more formal. And I’ve been lucky to have spent some time with him interviewing him immediately after the publication of the Saville Report, the Claudy bomb findings, and about his ministry at the Foyle Hospice.

But whenever I ever met him on the street, he never referred to me as Erin, the girl who works in the Journal, but Miss Doherty, Ivor’s daughter. a reference to my father with whom he shared a love for the history of Derry.

This week I watched as hundreds of people queued to spend a minute or two with Bishop Daly in St Eugene’s Cathedral. The crowds who gathered are a testament to the high esteem in which he was held in Derry. He was the People’s Bishop, and everyone’s priest. The last time I spoke to Bishop Daly a few months ago he ended our conversation with the words ‘Pray for me.’ The whole city is praying for him and remembering him this week.