Daniel Delany was born in 1747 at Paddock, Castletown parish, Queen’s county (now Co. Laois), into a wealthy farming family. His father and brother died when Daniel was young, and his mother, Elizabeth Delany (née Fitzpatrick), sent him to her sisters in nearby Mountrath to be cared for and educated.
In 1763, at the age of 16, Daniel Delany went to France and studied for the priesthood at both Paris and St Omer. He was ordained in 1770. Delany taught in Paris for a number of years before returning to Ireland in 1777 when he was appointed curate at Tullow, Co. Carlow. The Penal Laws were still in force in Ireland and life was difficult was Catholics: education was denied them and there was widespread agrarian unrest. Delany despaired of the widespread poverty and lawlessness. He was tempted to return to France but his mother persuaded him to stay in Ireland.
In 1783, Delany was appointed Coadjutor (or Assistant) Bishop, and in 1787, became Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin. During his episcopacy, the circumstances of Catholics improved through the relaxation of the Penal Laws, and Bishop Delany aided this process through rebuilding churches, increasing the number of the clergy, promoting religious instruction and circulating useful books. In Tullow, he set up Sunday Schools for both children and adults.
His predecessor, Bishop James Keeffe, had founded Carlow College in 1782, and Bishop Delany brought this project to fruition. In 1807 and 1808, he founded the Brigidine Sisters and Patrician Brothers respectively. Their primary mission was the education of the young, continuing the work Bishop Delany began with the establishment of Sunday schools. He died on 9 July 1814.