Richard Daly

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Richard Daly (1758–1813) was an Irish actor and theatrical manager.


Daly was born in County Galway, second son to Joseph Daly, a prosperous farmer. Though he entered Trinity College Dublin in 1773 there is no record that he ever took a degree. His character was violent; Jonah Barrington said he fought sixteen duels in the two years, three with swords and the rest with pistols, including one with Barrington, who claimed to have nearly killed him.

Daly squandered his father's inheritance. He went to England to try for a career on the stage, was tutored by Charles Macklin and debuted as Othello at London's Covent Garden on 4 March 1779 to an ill-received performance. He was back in Dublin in May with a travelling theatre company and purchased the deserted Smock Alley Theatre, which he refurbished and opened in November 1780. Until 1796 he managed theatres in Cork, Limerick, Newry and Waterford but he favoured his dissolute lifestyle over business. He was, however, awarded an exclusive fourteen-year parliamentary patent to perform drama in Dublin as deputy master of the revels, at one stroke removing competition from rival companies.

He had the theatre in Crow Street, Temple Bar, rebuilt and opened in 1788.


Daly was married to Jane Barsani Lyster, widow of John Richard Kirwan Lyster, who died in 1795. He had several children, including one by the actress Dorothea Jordan. He died in Dublin in September 1813.


  • Personal sketches of his own time, Sir Jonah Barrington, 1830
  • Dictionary of Irish Biography, pp. 31–32, Cambridge, 2010