At the launch of his latest opus “Trilogy” a message of best wishes and congratulations from Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa underlined the diverse range of contacts and friendships Anthony O’Malley Daly of Ballyshannon has made during his fascinating life time.
O’Malley Daly, 77, who delights in sharing the same birthday as Margaret Thatcher and Eamonn de Valera, is a keen observer of life and an even keener angler, gathered more than one hundred friends to Ballyshannon’s Dorrian’s Imperial Hotel on December 20th last for the official launch of “Trilogy”.
It’s a book where he recounts the details of his extraordinary life. “Trilogy” also includes a selection of Anthony’s popular Donegal Democrat and Irish Sun angling columns, and a rare collection of fishing stories from his family and friends.
All profits from the beautifully produced and edited 352 page hardback book, which sells at 30 euro, will be donated to the Irish Parkinson’s Association and the Irish Asthma Society.
Anthony, a Parkinson’s sufferer and charity fund-raiser, started a charitable and caring organisation called Mi Amigo (My Friend) over four years ago, and that organisation has raised valuable funds for a host of organisations and charitable causes, national and local, since its inception.
Anthony, who lives the mantra ‘I have Parkinson’s, but Parkinson’s does not have me”, spoke, with some difficulty, to the gathering as the formal end of the evening ended. However, to a man and woman, those in the room listened intently, to catch Anthony’s words. Blessed with a still razor sharp mind, his determination to beat the frustrating hurdles Parkinson’s lays before him every day, was self-evident in those few moments where he conveyed his thanks to all who assisted in any way with making his ambitious book a reality.
Getting to the podium took a little time, but no one was rushing for a bus. Slowly, but surely, Anthony made his way through his list, ticking off all those who needed a mention, and here and there his wonderful wife Mary and the hugely dignified and impressive MC for the evening, publisher/editor, Tom Sigafoos, John Hanna, Cara Clancy and John Meehan, prompted and interpreted his words. The distribution of some speaking notes also helped and Anthony, the ultimate communicator, again got the better of the hurdles life threw in front of him, and made his point.
Another master class in his determination to beat the odds.
Earlier the Hannas, John, in the room and Edward via cellular phone from the USA, regaled the audience with (literally) fishy tales, but again, the love they have for the man - ‘Injun Joe’ - was obvious. As we eaves-dropped on the conversation, it felt like three young lads re-living their youth. I sensed that had we waited until after the 9pm watershed, there were other stories to be told too.
Also joining the celebration by telephone was Orla O’Malley Daly, who lives in the USA.
Anthony’s son-in-law, Cllr John Meehan, enjoyed the irony of a “blue shirt” speaking at Anthony’s big night. It’s clear the two have a great fondness for each other and John, alluding to Anthony’s republican political beliefs, said Anthony had always agreed to disagree and remained tolerant to all others political views, including his.
Former Donegal County Manager, Michael McLoone, a patron of the Mi Amigo organisation set up by Anthony, spoke eloquently about Anthony’s amazing journey through life and he noted Anthony’s steely determination to make the best of every situation that met him.
“Anthony is an example to us all of a man who ‘takes the blows’ and gets on with it, a man who has had such a varied and wonderful life, that you would wonder how he packed so much in,” McLoone told the Donegal Democrat.
A Rehab Donegal Person of the Year in 2010 and a Ballyshannon Person of the Year in 2007, Anthony spent a huge part of his life travelling the world as a radio officer in the navy, and there was a five year spell in the RAF. There were brief spells washing dishes in the Marble Arch Hotel in London, then a Cinema Manager position, he was also a Sports Master at Hungerford School. He worked in the front office/accounts department of the Donegal Democrat for 30 years, retiring in 1994, and as a FÁS supervisor on the River Eske and Lough Eske for three years. Twice chairman of Ballyshannon Town Commissioners, Anthony served as a Town Commissioner (councillor) for many years.
Never held back by any obstacle, least of all age, Anthony, in later years, embarked on a series of fund raising ideas that would test men and women forty years his junior, his most notable ‘stunt’ a parachute jump from 10,000 feet. There were, among others, abseiling and an attempt at a water-skiing record and much more - none of them for the faint-hearted.
“Trilogy’s” dust jacket is an emerald green colour - no coincidence there either - and features a magnificent photo of a 20lb plus salmon (Anthony doesn’t look bad either) and a paragraph in italics which is entirely apt for the times we live in, and runs as follows:
“No matter where we travelled and encountered Irish men and women, we found them to be hard working and a credit to society. No family need grieve that their loved ones are in Boston or San Francisco or anywhere else in America for that matter. They are the best calibre of citizen and enhance their workplace. The only pity, upon reflection, is that their skills and humanity are lost to this nation - Ireland. God bless and keep every one of them . . . “
The launch night, like the book, was unique, and if you don’t know Anthony O’Malley Daly, you will know him better after you read “Trilogy”.
I suggest you do that, he’s a man worth knowing, a genius in his own right and a man of courage.