A new memoir by Dr Edward Daly, the retired Bishop of Derry, was hailed as "a courageous book by a man of integrity” at its official launch at the Magee campus of the University of Ulster.
More than 200 people, including life-long friends, former parishioners, members of the staff of the Foyle Hospice and his immediate family, filled the historic Great Hall at Magee for the launch of “A Troubled See”, published by Four Courts Press.
Professor Deirdre Heenan, the Provost of Magee, said the University was honoured to host the event in tribute a revered religious leader and a distinguished honorary graduate of the University.
Dr Daly, who was appointed Bishop in 1974, was awarded an honorary doctorate by Ulster in June 1994. Sixteen months earlier, he had suffered a stroke that led to his retirement as bishop.
The broadcaster and journalist Paul McFadden, who is a life-long friend of Dr Daly, delivered a keynote speech that was a masterly blend of analysis, humour, anecdote and spirituality.
He said: “This is a courageous book by a man who has acquired true understanding and sensitivity through more than half a century in the priesthood. That priesthood provided him with the strength, the support and the encouragement to serve us.
“It is fitting that the book is dedicated to those priests who faithfully served their communities and especially to Father Hugh Mullan and Father Noel Fitzpatrick, who lost their lives as they carried out their duties in West Belfast in the early 1970s.”
He said Bishop Daly’s courage was evident throughout the memoir in his trenchant denunciation of violence, his battles with officialdom, the way in which he rose above illness and his ministry with the Foyle Hospice.
Professor Heenan had warm praise for the book and its author. She said: “In this inspirational and heartfelt memoir, I can see the words and hear the voice of a man of integrity -- the honest words of an honest man.”
Dr Daly said the book was a memoir, not a polemic. It was not about priestly celibacy, he stressed, adding that he had been “perplexed that so many sections of the media focussed on a few hundred words in a book consisting of 100,000 words”.
He said: “Most of this book is about my experiences and my feelings about times past. Each individual had his or her different experiences of those times. This memoir is about my experiences, about the various people who passed through my life.
"I would ask readers to keep these things in mind when reading the book. It is a very personal record; it is not definitive and not everyone will agree with it."
Expressing gratitude to the University for hosting the event, Bishop Daly said Magee played a vital part in the development of the city and North West region and he urged the community to continue to support the campus’s expansion.
The Provost extended a special welcome to principal guests, who included Nobel
Laureate John Hume, Dr James Mehaffey, retired Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, and Dr Francis Lagan, retired Auxiliary Bishop of Derry.
Dr Mehaffey is an honorary graduate of Ulster. Mr Hume is an honorary Professor of the University.
Picture caption: Keynote speaker, journalist Paul McFadden, retired Bishop of Derry Dr Edward Daly and Professor Deirdre Heenan, Provost of the University of Ulster’s Magee campus, at the official launch of Dr Daly’s book, “A Troubled See”.