The sister of the late Bishop Edward Daly says her family has been amazed by the overwhelming outpouring of grief from the people of Derry for her “big brother” in the month since his death.
Anne Gibson, travelled from Lisnaskea for Bishop Daly’s month’s mind in St Eugene’s Cathedral on Saturday and was speaking at the surprise unveiling of a new monument to the ‘People’s Priest’ by John Hume and Ivan Cooper at the entrance to Glenfada Park.
Mrs Gibson said the family had an inkling there would be a presentation but were taken aback upon seeing the two tonne monument to the late Bishop, which has been hewn from Inishowen granite and placed in the heart of the Bogside.
“Well Fr Eamon did let us know two days ago that we were invited along here and that the people, the community around here had put together some sort of a memorial,” said Anne.
“We were in the Mayor’s parlour this afternoon too, receiving the book of condolences. So it’s very apt that we should now come to the place that he loved so well and the people that he admired over the years, to think that that community has so quickly put something together since his death is amazing.
“We’ve been amazed. We were amazed around the time of his death, at the funeral. We’ve been amazed by the letters we’ve received since, and this is just another thing to be amazed by.
“I know that he was so well loved by so many people but I always come back to the fact that he was my brother, he was my big brother, he was a father figure to me since he was 10 and I miss him terribly.”
Peace and reconciliation advocate, Vinnie Coyle, said the memorial includes an epitaph inspired by a favourite phrase of Bishop Daly, “Is ceist decair é sin - that’s a difficult question” - appropriate to a man who became an icon by providing pastoral leadership through troubled times.
“He was everything. He was a man of all seasons. He wasn’t just the man with the hankie which was amazing on the day. “He had that fight every single day throughout the Troubles.
“He was a great advocate of non-violence and peace together with John Hume and other people from the city working towards a peaceful solution.
“He was also the man who for some 30 years in the Hospice, even through his own illnesses, he dealt with people who were terminal, people who were passing away and he prayed with them and he was their friend, he was their confidante. An amazing man and a huge loss for the people of this city.”
Mr Coyle said he hopes a new ‘garden of reflection’ outside the Free Derry Museum where the monument has been placed can become a site for reconciliation and interdonminational services.
He said Bishop Daly is encapsulated by a verse on the sculpture, which reads: “To love means loving the unlovable, to forgive means forgiving the unforgivable, faith means, believing the unbelievable, hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.”