Daly was born in England of Irish parents. He came to the United States to begin his career as an iron worker at Jones & Laughlin Iron & Steel Company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania before moving to Birmingham in the late 1880s.
Daly left the Birmingham Rolling Mill after saving up enough money to open the Rolling Mill Saloon nearby. His influence with 1st ward workers and in the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Irish Democratic Club helped Daly and David Fox create a political machine headquartered at the saloon. Daly was elected to various political positions including Birmingham City jailer and Jefferson County jailer before he was elected to the Birmingham Board of Aldermen in A. O. Lane's 1890 administration. From there they assumed power of the City Democratic Party Executive Committee.
- Harris, Carl V. (1977) Political Power in Birmingham, 1871-1921. Twentieth-Century America Series. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 087049211X
- McKiven, Henry R. (1995) Iron & Steel: Class, Race, and Community in Birmingham, Alabama, 1875-1920. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN0807845248