Daniel Delany DD (February 1747 in Paddock, Mountrath, Laois, Ireland – 1814) was the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin.
He was born as the first of two sons into a farming family in 1747. His father Daniel and younger brother John died when Daniel was still young, and his mother, Elizabeth Delany (née Fitzpatrick) sent him to her sisters to be cared for and to gain a better education. Daniel attended the local Hedge school at Briscula, just a few kilometres from his home.
In 1763 at the age of 16 Delany went to Paris to study for his priesthood at the Irish College, Paris and was ordained a priest in 1770/71. For the next five or six years Delany taught rhetoric at the English College at Saint-Omer in France. He returned to Ireland around 1777.
Soon after arriving he was stationed at Tullow as Bishop James Keeffe's assistant priest. He lived there for the rest of his life.
Catholic education in Ireland had been denied to the people of Ireland since the seventeenth century, in consequence many of the population suffered from poverty, hunger and drunkenness. Delany tried hard to bring back the traditional Catholic education to the community. He started by the establishment of Sunday schools for the youth of Tullow. He also formed a youth band to help teach his students hymns. Soon older people of the community started to join these classes.
Some time after 1794 Elizabeth Delany his mother died, leaving him all her property. Delany invested a portion of this property left to him and the interest went to charities. Delany also distributed prayer books to children on the day of their first communion.
In April 1783 Delany was appointed Coadjustor Bishop of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. Soon afterwards he took up the motto "Fortiter et Suaviter" a motto he copies from his spiritual mentor St Francis De Sales (1567 - 1622).
With some relaxation of the Penal Laws in 1782, many Irish priests including Bishops Keeffe and Delany worked to rebuild churches, monasteries, convents and schools.
In 1782 Keeffe with Delany began planning for the establishment of a tertiary college (St. Patrick's, Carlow College) for the education of both lay students and those studying for the priesthood. The college was originally planned for Tullow but in the end had to be situated in Carlow fifteen kilometres away. Keeffe died in 1787 but he was able to witness the beginning of construction. It was left to Bishop Delany and Fr Henry Staunton of Carlow to get the college finished. For financial reasons it did not open until 1793. It is the oldest surviving Catholic tertiary college in Ireland preceding famous Maynooth College by two years.
With the death of Bishop Keeffe in 1787 Bishop Delany was appointed Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin on 17 February 1788.
He was responsible for the building of a church in both Tullow (1805) and Mountrath (1810). In 1807 Delany refounded the Congregation of St. Brigid the Brigidine Sisters, and in 1808 he founded the Congregation of Patrician Brothers in Tullow, county Carlow. In the convent gardens Delany planted an oak sapling from Kildare. Today many of the Brigidine communities have an oak tree growing from the seed of an oak tree in Kildare.
Bishop Delany died at two on the morning of 9 July 1814. He had been seriously ill for some months and was being cared for by the Brigidine Sisters in their convent. He is buried under his Tullow church.
Today you will find his spiritual children, the Brigidines and Patricians, all over the world striving to continue his vision of an education for all.
Schools Named After Daniel Delany
Delany College, Granville, NSW, Australia (a secondary school) is named after Daniel Delany.
Delany Academy, Dormaa, Ghana, opened in 2008, is also named in honour of the Bishop.
There is a wing in Brigidine College, Randwick, NSW, Australia, named after Daniel Delany.
Delany Building in St Joseph's College, Echuca, Victoria, Australia.
And many others.
The Delany Archive which holds the archives of the diocese of Kildare & Leighlin, the Patrician Brothers, Brigidine Sisters and Carlow College is located in Carlow College The Patrician Brothers in Sydney named the Delany Foundation and the Delany Space.