IN 1928, Madge Daly who worked a business on William Street, Limerick, presented William P. Clifford the chairman of the Limerick GAA board with a cup for the county senior hurling championship.
It was named in memory of John Daly, her uncle.
The first to accept the cup was Bob McConkey in 1929 when the '28 final was played. This was not the first for Bob as in 1923 he claimed the McCarthy cup as captain of Limerick who were crowned the 1921 All Ireland hurling champions.
Who was John Daly?.
He was born in Limerick city in 1845. A saw mill in the city was his place of employment. At a young age he became involved with nationalist politics and he and his brother Edward joined the Fenian movement in Limerick city. He participated in the abortive attack on Kilmallock Barracks in 1867 when three Fenians were killed.
Following the Kilmallock attack many of the Fenians were arrested, but there is no evidence of John being taken prisoner. He continued to be an active member of the Fenians and its sister organisation the IRB. In 1869 he was listed as being one of the leading lights in the "Amnesty Association" which was agitating for the release of Fenian prisoners. By 1873 he was a full time organiser for the IRB and his work took him to many countries. In 1883 John Daly was arrested for being in possession of explosives that had allegedly been given to him by a police agent, Dan O'Neill. O'Neill was a former Fenian, but allegedly became a police agent to avoid jail. Daly was found guilty of the explosives charge and with a fellow Limerick man, James Egan, was sentenced to life in prison. Portland prison was his home and it was here he came in contact with a political prisoner, named Thomas Clarke.
In 1889 a police commissioner made a death bed statement that Daly had been framed and while this did not lead to Daly's release, it did awaken interest in his case. The reason that he was not released on the foot of the death bed confession was that the British government considered him extremely dangerous. Back in Limerick local IRB people started a campaign for his release against considerable opposition led by the Catholic Bishop of Limerick, Edward O'Dwyer. The Mayor of Limerick WJ O'Donnell supported the campaign as well as John Redmond who visited Daly in prison on several occasions. A campaign for the release of Mayo man, PW Nally, was launched at this time. A stand in Croke Park was later named after Nally.
John Daly was elected MP in the 1895 general election, but was this was overturned due to his status as a prisoner and a by-election called to fill the vacancy. All of these happenings helped to highlight Daly's plight. An attempt was made to poison him in jail and a subsequent court of inquiry into the alleged poisoning found in favour of Daly and with the Limerick Fenian deciding on hunger strike he was released in 1896 a pale shadow of the man who had been incarcerated in 1884.
Following his release from prison, John Daly went to America where he managed to raise some money giving lectures. He set up a family business in Limerick and because of the death of his brother Edward in 1891, he was effectively left in a father's role to his family at home. He never tired from politics and in 1899 he was elected Mayor of Limerick. He was again elected in 1900 and 1901.
He remained loyal to the IRB. McDiarmuida and Clarke concentrated the most of their activites in Dublin, but Daly spent the greater part of his time in Limerick. McDiarmuida was in constant touch with Daly in Limerick and the city was effectively a centre for the movement. The IRB was re-established in Limerick city under the guise of " The Phoenix Club". He backed the scout movement "Na Fianna" whose Limerick's headquarters was at the back of John Daly's home in Little Barrington street.
In the aftermath of the 1916 rising, Ned Daly, John's nephew and Thomas Clarke who married to Ned's sister Kathleen were executed and John died a little later on June 30 1916.
Sadly the name of John Daly has been effectively forgotten in his native city. No street, public building bears his name while lesser men adorn housing estates. The one momento to a great Limerick man is the cup awarded each year to the winners of the Limerick senior hurling championship. If Madge Daly had not presented the Daly cup to the Limerick GAA, would his name and deeds be forgotten in his own city?