Bishop Daly was a ‘gift’ to us: Foyle Hospice staff
20:51 Thursday 11th of August 2016
Staff from the Foyle Hospice in Derry formed a guard of honour at today’s funeral of the late Bishop Edward Daly.
Prior to the service, they spoke of their sorrow at the sad loss of the man they described as a ‘gift’ to the charity.
One of the places Dr Daly’s death will be most keenly felt is the Foyle Hospice, where he served as chaplain after his retirement due to ill health in 1994.
He remained in the role for 12 years, and said his last Mass at the Hospice in February of this year.
Staff members, many of whom grew to be close friends of Dr Daly, recalled the special relationship they had with him, and the happiness and strength he brought to the Hospice over the years.
Teresa McGowan, Clinical Nurse Manager, Day Hospice, first met Dr Daly when she tended him while he was all and she was working as a student nurse in Altnagelvin Hospital in 1974.
She said that in his work with the Hospice, Dr Daly had given staff and patients a ‘special gift’ that was his quiet strength and compassion, which she said in turn gave them the courage to get through even the darkest to times.
“I worked with Bishop Daly since he started with the Hospice, which was 24 years ago, when I was in the in-patient unit as a nurse,” she said.
“I spent so much time with him, and I think no one really knows what he did for the patients and the families here.
“His compassion and care of children was just great. We had a young gentleman dying in here, and I was nursing him, and I remember going to the drawer, and there was sweets in the drawer, but I hadn’t seen anyone come in.
“So I asked him where did the sweets come from, and he said Bishop Daly brings them in every day for the children.
“Bishop Daly never told anybody, and that was the kind of man he was, bringing packets of Pastilles every day, just very kind.
“Whenever we were stressed out, just with the emotions of the job, he’d be there for you.
“He was walking past me in the corridor one day, and said ‘Teresa, that’s for you’, and he gave me a wee bar of Dairy Milk.
“No words had to be passed, you just knew he was there for you.
“He was always a very calming influence in the Hospice, and when people were at the end, he made it very peaceful, and it was just beautiful to see people dying with dignity and love, with the Bishop sitting at the bedside, and you just felt that the patients peacefully drifting away to wherever it was they were to go.”
She added: “He was the pastoral care in the day hospice for 12 years, he came on a Wednesday, and, we would all have been blessed along with the patients, and that is something that has really helped me through my life.
“The gift of the patients having the blessing was fantastic, but he didn’t realise he was also giving us a gift every week, to keep us strong in our work.”
“People talk about people they admire in the world, but to me the two top men in the world I admire more than anyone would be Dr McGinley and Dr Daly. They just inspire me, and the staff here would be the same, Dr McGinley delivering the care that he did, and the spiritual care that Bishop Daly delivered.”
Teresa added: “The one thing we always knew was that Bishop Daly was there for us. There were situations over the years which were very difficult, and he would just say ‘It’s okay Teresa, it’s all right’, he would always support us.”
Teresa added that she last spoke to Dr Daly three weeks ago, adding that she was proud to have known him since their first meeting 42 years ago.
“When I first met him in 1974 I was so shy, but I was so glad that he came back into my life when he came to the Hospice and has been in it ever since,” she added.
“To have had all this time with him has been amazing.
“He was a gift to all of us.”
Meanwhile, Margaret Taylor, who works as a cook in the Hospice recalled a man with a ‘big personality’ who always had a bit of craic for the staff.
“He was just a fantastic asset to have in the Hospice,” she said, “he was just such a big personality in the place.”
“And that’s not just from the point of view of a spiritual side, but as a person, a priest and a man.
“He was a beautiful person in every way and you would see families coming in here distraught, and he just had that way of calming them and putting them at ease.
“Bishop Daly just always had that same calm temperament, I never seen him any other way, always caring, kind and giving.
“He was always supportive of the staff, because it can be quite difficult at times working here.”
She added: “It’s just so sad, and it’s hard to believe he’ll never be back here.”
Aine Downey, who works alongside Maggie, and whose son was cared for at the Hospice, echoed her comments.
“He was very good with the young ones too,” she added.
“I think it’s important to get that across, because it can be more difficult when it’s a young person.”
Maggie also spoke of the funny side of Dr Daly, who she described as the ‘best of craic’.
“Down in the unit one day I set the microwave on fire, and the fire alarm went off when Bishop Daly was saying the Mass on Sunday.
“They were singing ‘Panis Angelicus’ at the time, and I just remember the Bishop running through the corridor with his big green robe on, and he came up to me and said, ‘Maggie, that was Panic Angelicus’,” she added.
Michelle McGinn, Business and Schools Community Fundraiser with the Foyle Hospice, added that Dr Daly was a ‘beacon of hope’ for those in the Hospice.
“I’ve been here eight years and Bishop Daly was part of the furniture at the Hospice, always there with a ready smile, for the staff, the patients and their families,” she said.
“He was just a really lovely, gentle person and you just felt special in his company.
“The families that use our service always mention his name, he was a beacon of hope and joy for the families of patients here and will be terribly missed.”
Photo shows Bishop Daly at the “turning of the sod” of the new Foyle Hospice by founder Dr Tom McGinley.
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