Faith Matters

Cahal Daly left footprints 'on the sands of time'

The friendliness between Catholic and Protestant neighbours in the Loughguile of his youth made a lasting impact on Cahal Daly

Cardinal Cahal Daly never forgot his formative years in Loughguile, where Catholic and Protestant relations were exemplified by good neighbourliness. Picture by Hugh Russell

CAHAL Daly's commitment to dialogue was rooted in his upbringing in Loughguile in the Glens of Antrim.

There, the seeds of good neighbourliness were sown in a community in which the majority Catholic population enjoyed strong and positive relations with a significant Protestant minority.

The soil was also remarkably fertile in terms of growing both Catholic and Protestant clergy.

In his 1998 memoir Steps on My Pilgrim Journey, the future Cardinal recalled that several Protestant families had sons studying for the ministry at the same time that he was studying for the priesthood.

They formed friendships and links which, as Cardinal Daly put it, "were maintained throughout later life and were greatly cherished".

"They included Reverend William Hanna, Presbyterian, later minister of Randalstown Old Congregation and then of Windsor, and Reverend Robert Hanna, Reformed Presbyterian, of Corkey, who had also an uncle Reverend Tom Hanna, a Reformed Presbyterian minister," wrote Cardinal Daly.

"Robert and William were second cousins and were both neighbours of the Dalys when we lived in Ballybradden.

"There were also the Reverend Professor Adam Loughridge, Reformed Presbyterian of Friary, and Reverend James Hamilton of Tober.

"Reverend John Young, Presbyterian, later minister of Belmont, was a son of Hugh Young, our 'bread man', of Ballymoney.

"He used to accompany his father on his weekly rounds of Loughguile and often called at our house in Tully.

"John was one year older than I and we compared notes of secondary school and theological college days and remained lifelong friends particularly during the years of 'the Troubles'.

"Another well known Loughguile clergyman was Reverend Samuel Hanna, also of Ballybradden who was long serving Presbyterian Minister in Berry Street, Belfast who died in 1944.

"He had the unusual qualification of completing his medical studies and conducting a medical practice while still in active ministry.

"He was the uncle of the Reverend William Hanna. At the time of my ordination, there were five living Catholic priests from the parish of Loughguile.

"Loughguile was manifestly a community of lively faith both among its Catholic majority population and its Protestant minority."

This friendly, faith-based upbringing clearly made a lifelong impact on the young Cahal Daly.

So too did his earliest memory, as recounted in Steps on My Pilgrim Journey: "My earliest memory is of being in my father's arms in my night attire, outside our house in Ballybradden, a townland of the parish of Loughguile, County Antrim, and pointing up at the fire on the roof and trying, in whatever words I then knew, to ask who lit the living room fire up on the roof of the house.

"This event obviously and naturally made a deep impression on the mind of a child. I was then aged about four."

The house had been set on fire, he said, as a result of "an operation by the North Antrim IRA during the troubles of 1916-1922".

Of the long list of faithful clergy from Loughguile, the Rev Robert Hanna, now retired from full-time ministry in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland, is the survivor.

Born and reared at Corkey, Loughguile, he remembers his "early in life neighbour and acquaintance" fondly.

"I had to make contact with Dr Daly at times and always had a reply," he recalls.

"As arranged beforehand through Fr William McKeever, I had lunch with him and his Eminence the Cardinal on January 31 1999 in the old parochial house at Loughguile.

"He was busy that afternoon as he had to attend an engagement at Magherahoney. I enjoyed the time spent with him reminiscing.

"Ecclesiastes 3:2 encourages us to remember our origin and mortality - 'a time to be born and a time to die'."

Rev Hanna said that when he thinks about Cardinal Daly now, he is reminded of the words written by the poet Henry W Longfellow: "Lives of great men all remind us, we can make our lives sublime, and, departing, leave behind us, footprints on the sands of time."

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