On Tuesday last, March 22, I was privileged to attend a ceremony in Castlebar to honour and more importantly to remember the illustrious career of my predecessor, James Daly.
It was a special occasion when relatives of the late Connaught Telegraph Editor and owner gathered to mark the 100th anniversary of his death.
Daly, who died at the age of 74, has been all but airbrushed out of Irish history and his achievements in the fight for the rights of tenant farmers and his role in founding the Land League along with Michael Davitt should not be forgotten.
He used his pen and the pages of The Connaught Telegraph to tackle and eventually break the grip of largely absentee landlords on land banks in Ireland.
James Daly was Editor of The Connaught Telegraph form 1876 to 1888 and following the founding meeting of the Mayo Tenants Defence Association in Castlebar, on October 26, 1878, the demand for The Land of Ireland for the people of Ireland was reported in The Connaught Telegraph on November 2, 1878.
The first of many 'monster meetings' of tenant farmers was held in Irishtown, Claremorris, on April 20, 1879, with an estimated turnout of 15,000 to 20,000 people.
The meeting was addressed by: James Daly (who presided), John O'Connor Power, John Ferguson, Thomas Brennan, and J.J. Louden.
Daly's report of the meeting in the edition of April 26, 1879, began: 'Since the days of O'Connell a larger public demonstration has not been witnessed than that of Sunday last. About 1 o'clock the monster procession started from Claremorris, headed by several thousand men on foot..' – and so the land reform movement took off.
His journalistic prowess should not be forgotten. He spearheaded a drive for reform at great personal cost.
The first steps in writing his memory back into the history books commenced on Tuesday when the Mayor of Castlebar, Councillor Ger Deere, planted a tree at the entrence of the old cemetery in Castlbear, not far from Daly's grave where wreaths were also laid.
A suitable plaque will be put in place directing visitors to the graveyard to his final resting place nearby.
Let us not forget the role of Daly in shaping the modern Ireland. He took on the might of the British establishment and proved the pen is mightier than the sword.