A Tribute to Anthony O’Malley Daly R.I.P.

In May 2012, Anthony O’Malley Daly advertised on a Ballyshannon community bulletin board for help with typing. I inquired about the work at Inisfáil, a yellow-and-red house on College Street. I was introduced to a man who sat by an electric fire surrounded by family photos, specimen fish in trophy cases, and a clutter of magazines, newspapers, and medicine bottles. His speech faltered, and he used a zimmer frame when he walked, but he got his point across – he was writing a book, and he was looking for someone to help. I told him that I had some experience along those lines, and Anthony and I shook hands for the first of many times.

Anthony knew exactly what he wanted – a three-part volume that included his autobiography, including his lifelong struggle with asthma (“My Life – My Way”), excerpts from his columns (“Sixty Years of Angling”), and the collection of fishing stories from his family and friends (“Injun Joe – Fishing Stories”). The title would be “Trilogy.” I tried to convince him to print 500 copies in a trade-paperback format, but Anthony refused. It would be a hardbound book, he insisted, and he would print a thousand copies. The profits from the book would be distributed to the Asthma Society of Ireland and to the Parkinson’s Association of Ireland.

Trilogy was launched on 20 December 2012. Over 150 friends and well-wishers gave Anthony a standing ovation when he entered the banquet room of Dorrian’s Hotel in Ballyshannon. Friends and family members told stories of his fund-raising escapades over the years. Even Archbishop Desmond Tutu, whose Mpilo Trust Ministry had received support from Anthony’s Mi Amigo charity fund, sent an e-mail of best wishes for the launch of Trilogy.

In January of 2013, Anthony and I began a series of trips to towns and villages in the north west from Sligo to Letterkenny, distributing copies of Trilogy for sale in stores and businesses. Although his legs would tire, he insisted on going into every shop on his zimmer frame. He refused to accept any rides – “No wheelchairs!” – despite the time and effort that it cost him to get from store to store.

Copies of Trilogy were archived in the National Library of Ireland and in the British National Library. Anthony gave copies to the Taoiseach and to the Lord Mayor of Dublin, and he mailed a copy to Nelson Mandela when he heard that former President of South Africa was ill.

When we visited Bundoran’s Oznam House nursing home in the summer, Anthony was at his best, winding up the residents with his craic and irreverent retorts. (“How’s Mary?” “I shot her!”) But by October there had been a sea-change. He tried to walk the long corridor to the Oznam House day-room with his zimmer frame, but he became exhausted and accepted a ride in a wheelchair. We used a wheelchair in subsequent outings, but even without walking he grew profoundly tired and tended to doze. By November he had lost the energy for our travels. We ended up where we had started, by the electric fire in the O’Malley Daly sitting room, while Anthony speculated about organising a campaign to confront the problems of bullying and suicide, encouraging everyone to find reasons to live.

Anthony died on the 22nd of November. Less than a week earlier, he had talked about writing another book. He’d postponed the publication date for Trilogy four times, trying to add more stories and tributes than one book could possibly hold.

I will treasure the year-and-a-half that I spent with Anthony O’Malley Daly, one of the stubbornest, most exasperating, bravest men I have ever known.

For additional information contact

Tom Sigafoos

Old Credit Union Building

East Port, Ballyshannon

Co. Donegal, Ireland

353-(0)87-946-0584 mobile / cellphone