Bishop Daly pens new memoir

Retired Bishop of Derry, Edward Daly puts the finishing touches to his forthcoming book. (0804JB13)
Retired Bishop of Derry, Edward Daly puts the finishing touches to his forthcoming book. (0804JB13)

Retired Bishop of Derry Dr Edward Daly, whose autobiography ‘Mister, Are You a Priest?’ was one of the publishing hits of the last decade, has just finished a follow-up which will hit the bookshelves later this year, the ‘Journal’ can reveal.

The new book - entitled ‘A Troubled See’ and published by Four Courts Press - will focus on Dr Daly’s years as Bishop of Derry and his role as Chaplain at the Foyle Hospice.

Dr. Daly says that writing the book revived many mixed memories - both of happy and sad times.

“I have to say it’s been a remarkably therapeutic and relaxing experience, he told the ‘Journal’ this week.

“It’s also been an amazingly fulfilling and, at times, very poignant experience for me.”

In the 100,000 word memoir, Dr. Daly recalls some of his experiences during almost 20 years as Bishop and 17 years serving as chaplain at the Foyle Hospice.

The first instalment of Dr. Daly’s autobiography - which was published in 2000 - dealt with his time as a priest in Derry up to his appointment as Bishop in 1974.

“I enjoy writing immensely,” he said. “It’s a labour of love. There’s nothing I like better than, in the evening, putting on some music and sitting down to write.”

Bishop Daly says he was “taken aback” by the success of “Mister, Are You A Priest?” which, to date, has sold more than 25,000 copies.

“I was gobsmacked at just how popular it was. I didn’t think so many people would be interested.”

The success of “Mister, Are You A Priest?” made a follow-up inevitable.

“It’s something I’ve been working at, on and off, for the past seven or eight years,” he said.

“However, it was only after the publication of the Saville report that I really focused my mind on it. Therefore, much of it has been written in the past six or so months.”

Bishop Daly says the book confines itself to “my own personal experience - issues and events that I was personally involved in. I have stayed away from things I wasn’t part of.”

“I always try to cross-reference my own recollections with contemperaneous accounts - whether it’s newspaper clippings, letters, sermons and other documents that I have filed away over the years.”

Dr. Daly acknowledges that, as part of his research for the new book, he had to revisit a lot of “painful experiences.”

“There have been so many painful events over the years and I refer to quite a few of those in the book. However, I’ve found that I’ve learned a lot from having to, as it were, revisit some of the more difficult moments.”

The Bishop says that in ‘A Troubled See’ - due for publication some time in the autumn - he writes as “honestly and openly” as he can.

“They are my views and they may not be to everyone’s taste,” he says. “I now feel free to talk about certain things that, at the time, I either couldn’t remark on or didn’t feel comfortable speaking about.”

Dr. Daly says his new book is “coloured” very much by his experiences as Chaplain at the Foyle Hospice.

“My years as Chaplain have been the most fulfilling of my entire priesthood. I have been greatly privileged to serve in this role. Ministry takes on an entirely new dimension in a hospice situation

“It has been and continues to be a wonderful experience. It is a situation in which one is forever learning, forever being challenged: challenged emotionally and physically and, frequently, challenged spiritually.”

Dr. Daly has written that his own experience of serious illness and cancer has been of some assistance to him in ministering to those undergoing similar experiences - albeit more acute.

“A Troubled See”, by Bishop Edward Daly, will be published by Fourt Courts Press.