After a long illness, Father Donal Daly, SVD formerly lecturer in Philosophy, Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, died peacefully at Connolly Hospital, Dublin on Saturday, 22 August.
Born in Fermoy in the Diocese of Cloyne on 14 December 1936, he attended the local Christian Brothers School. After taking the Leaving Certificate with Honours in 1954, he entered the Noviciate of the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD), Donamon, Co. Roscommon, in September of that year. He took his First Vows in 1956. In Donamon, he also undertook his initial studies in philosophy before going to the SVD Seminary, Techny, Chicago, to study theology for the priesthood, while taking special courses in philosophy and psychology in Loyola College during the summer holidays.
After ordination in 1962, he entered the postgraduate course of the Faculty of Philosophy at the Gregorian University, Rome, where he was awarded the STL in 1964 and the PhD in 1967. As a proud Cloyne man, it was not surprising that his doctoral thesis was on the Anglican philosopher-Bishop Berkley of Cloyne: Existence in the Philosophy of George Berkeley.
He was appointed Professor of Philosophy and Dean of Studies at the Divine Word Seminary, Donamon in 1966 until his appointment in to the staff of Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth. After a period as part-time lecturer (1969), he was appointed full Lecturer in Philosophy in 1971. It was a time of radical change in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. The Trustees of the College, the Bishops, decided to open its doors initially to non-diocesan students and staff, and then to lay students and staff. This inaugurated a process that, during the following quarter of a century, eventually saw the secular faculties in the Seminary (with the status as a Recognized College of the National University since 1910) evolve into the present Maynooth University established in 1997. Father Donal lectured there up to his retirement in 2002.
His lectures covered both undergraduate and postgraduate levels on a broad range of philosophical topics: logic, epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of religion, concepts of deity, atheism, religion-ethics-politics dialectical materialism, moral philosophy (paying special attention to bioethics, the morality of war, and virtue ethics), as well special courses on Aquinas, Hume, and Freud. He special interest was in natural law. He read academic papers and gave public lectures on various philosophical topics. His publications included a number of important reviews for the Irish Theological Quarterly. After retirement, he became a temporary lecturer in philosophy in the National Seminary at Maynooth, from 2003 to 2014.
Father Donal was elected Chairman of the Academic Staff Association in 1975 at a particularly turbulent period, when he also became a member of the Executive of the Irish Federation of University Teachers. He was active in the College’s Academic Planning Unit and was on the Campus Planning Committee from 1977 to 1981. He was also an esteemed member of the Irish Philosophical Society, to which he was elected Chairman in 1985. He was Joint Treasurer of the organizing committee of the International Philosophical Congress on Philosophy Today, held at T.C.D. and U.C.D in September 1971.
He was, however, first and foremost, a committed Divine Word Missionary priest and a pillar of his community. At Provincial Assemblies and Chapters, his skill as impartial Chairman was put to great use. A member of the SVD Community, Maynooth for almost half a century, he was regularly elected to the House Council. During the summer vacation, he regularly did pastoral work in various English parishes where supply was needed. He is survived by his nieces and nephews and their families. He will be greatly missed by his family, former students, and his confreres in the Society of the Divine Word.