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A diplomatist and historian, born in Kerry, Ireland, 1595; died at Lisbon, 30 June. 1662. On his mother's side he belonged to the Desmond branch of the Geraldines, of which branch his paternal ancestors were the hereditary chroniclers or bards. He be came a Dominican in Tralee, Co. Kerry; took his vows in Lugo, studied at Burgos, gained his doctorate of theology in Bordeaux, and returned as priest to Tralee. In 1627 he was sent to teach theology in the newly established College for Irish Dominicans at Louvain. In 1629 he went to Madrid on business connected with this college and, seeing that Philip IV of Spain favoured the project, he, assisted by three of his Irish brethren, established, in Lisbon, the Irish Dominican College of which he became the first rector. He conceived the project of erecting, near Lisbon, a convent of Irish Dominican nuns, to serve as a refuge in time of persecution. Philip granted permission to do so on condition that he should raise a body of Irish soldiers for Spanish service in the Low Countries. O'Daly set sail for Limerick and got the men. On his return to Madrid (1639), Belem on the Tagus, four miles below the city, was selected as a site and, with the assistance of the Countess of Atalaya, the convent of Our Lady of Bom Successo was built. The king had such confidence in him that he made him envoy to Charles I of England, to the exiled Charles II, and to Pope Innocent X (1650). The Queen of Portugal also sent him as envoy to Pope Alexander VIII.
In the year 1655 he was sent as envoy from John IV of Portugal to Anne of Austria and Louis XIV to conclude a treaty between Portugal and France. Here as elsewhere, success attended him; but while negotiations abroad and matters of government at home afforded opportunities of serving the House of Braganza, he would not accept any honour in return. His acquaintances praise his straightforwardness, honesty, tact, and disinterestedness. He refused the Archbishopric of Braga and the Primacy of Goa and the Bishopric of Coimbra; nor would he accept the titles of Privy Councillor or Queen's Confessor, though he held both offices. In 1665 he published "Initium, Incrementum, et Exitus Familiæ Geraldinorum, Desmoniæ Comitum, Palatinorum Kyerriæ in Hibernia, ac Persecutionis Hæreticorum Descriptio" etc., his work on the Earls of Desmond, for which he availed himself of the traditional knowledge of his ancestors. In the first part he describes the origin of the Munster Geraldines, their varying fortunes, and their end in the heroic struggle for faith and fatherland. It is our chief authority on this subject. The second part treats of the cruelties inflicted on the Irish Catholics, and of the martyrdom of twenty Dominicans, many of whom had been with him in Lisbon. The work was translated into French by Abbé Joubert (1697), and into English by the Rev. C. P. Meehan, Dublin (2nd edition annotated, 1878.) During these years his chief concern was to put his college on a firm basis and to make it render the greatest possible service to Ireland. Bom Successo became too small for the number of students. In 1659 he laid the first stone of a larger building which was called Corpo Santo. To provide funds for these houses he consented to become Bishop of Coimbra and, in consequence, President of the Privy Council; but before the papal Bull arrived he died. His remains reposed in the cloister of Corpo Santo until the earthquake of 1755; the inscription on his tomb recorded that he was "In varus Regum legationibus felix, . . . Vir Prudentia, Litteris, and Religione conspicuus.' (Successful in embassies for kings . . . A man distinguished for prudence, knowledge, and virtue.) A few years after the catastrophe, on the same spot, with the same name and object, a new college and church arose, which, with Bom Successo, keep O'Daly's memory fresh in Lisbon to the present day.
Manuscript preserved in Bom Successo; Letter of O'Daly published by MEEHAN (1878); BARON (who knew O'Daly), Libri quinque apologetici (Paris, 1666); ECHARD, Script. Ord. Prœd. (Paris, 1719-21); Hibernia Dominicana contains much additional information; MEEHAN, Introduction to his translation; BELLESHEIM, Gesch. der kath. Kirche in Ireland, II, III (for an original letter cf. III, 756); O'CONNELL, Dominic O'Daly in Faith and Fatherland (Dublin, 1888).