Born as John Edward Daly at 26 Frederick Street (now O'Curry street), Limerick, Daly was the only son among the ten children born to Edward and Catherine Daly (née O'Mara). He was the younger brother of Kathleen Clarke, wife of Tom Clarke, and an active member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). His father, Edward, was a Fenian (IRB member) who died five months before his son's birth at the age of forty-one. His uncle was John Daly, a prominent republican who had taken part in the Fenian Rising and Fenian Dynamite Campaign. It was through John Daly that Clarke had met his future wife.
He was educated by the Presentation Sisters at Sexton Street, the Congregation of Christian Brothers at Roxboro Road and at Leamy’s commercial college. He spent a short time as an apprentice baker in Glasgow, before returning to Limerick to work in Spaight's timber yard. He later moved to Dublin where he eventually took up a position with a wholesale chemists.
In 1913 he moved to Dublin where he lived with Kathleen and Tom Clarke.
Edward Daly’s family had a history of republican activity; his uncle John Daly had taken part in the rebellion of 1867. He led the First Battalion during the Rising, raiding the Bridewell and Linenhall Barracks and eventually seizing control of the Four Courts.
He was a close friend of Tom Clarke, their ties made even stronger by the marriage of Tom Clarke to Daly’s sister.
Edward Daly was executed in Kilmainham Jail on the 4th May 1916.
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