Founded in 1788, the Linen Hall Library is the oldest library in Belfast. Courtesy The Linen Hall Libary.
The Political Collection at Belfast’s Linen Hall Library has been boosted by the donation of the complete writings of retired Archbishop Cardinal Cahal B Daly.
Presiding over his ministry throughout the violent period that became known as 'the troubles’, Cardinal Daly’s work includes 500 sermons, essays, addresses and press statements written throughout his career.
The series of bound volumes was given to the library by the former Primate of All Ireland during a launch on January 28.
Cardinal Daly, joined in the Linen Hall by librarian John Gray. Courtesy The Linen Hall Library.
"We are fortunate that Cardinal Daly was prolific and always intelligent in his response to the always difficult times in which he was called upon to serve," explained Linen Hall librarian, John Gray. "We are also fortunate that, as a true scholar, and with a sense of history, he kept every written contribution that he made to our times."
Ordained in 1941, Cardinal Daly was consecrated as a bishop in 1967 and from 1990 until his retirement in 1996 he was Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.
One of the most senior catholic churchmen in the country, Cardinal Daly oversaw his ministry during a period when violence destroyed many communities in Northern Ireland. Indeed, many of his sermons were written to be delivered at funeral masses of victims of the troubles.
Cardinal Cahal B Daly. Courtesy the Archdiocese of Armagh.
"From the beginning of the troubles in Northern Ireland I believed that the recording and analysis of the ongoing conflict and the preservation in one location in an easily accessible form of all documents relating to it, would be of great historical importance," he said at the launch. "In this connection, I admired the initiative of the Linen Hall Library in setting up its Political Collection."
Founded in 1788, the Linen Hall is the oldest library in Belfast, the leading centre for Irish and Local Studies in the north of Ireland and holds what is considered to be the definitive archive of the recent troubles, the Northern Ireland Political Collection, which contains around 250,000 items.
Cardinal Daly’s donation is the fullest and best organised archive of the writings of a bishop or cardinal ever given to the institution and makes a significant addition to the political collection.
It reflects the way the condition of wider society cannot help but permeate the writings and teachings of priests and clergymen, no matter how much they may focus on faith. In Daly’s case this was even more pertinent and, tellingly, the word ‘peace’ appears in the titles of a quarter of his publications.
"Where feelings run high and community resentments are strong on ‘both sides’, truth itself becomes an early casualty," he said.
"St Paul wrote of “speaking the truth in love” and that is what the Christian pastor must always seek to do. Whether or to what extent I succeeded in doing so is for others to judge, not me."