Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Just Mary

Oh Mary: 1. Mary McAleese and Mary O’Rourke; 2. Norma Smurfit; 3. Michael McDowell and Charlie O’Connor. (Pix. Brian McEvoy)

Mary O’Rourke is known as someone who always speaks her mind. This forthright approach has made her one of Ireland’s best-loved public figures and is very much in evidence in her highly anticipated memoir, Just Mary.  The book was officially launched by former President Mary McAleese at the National Library recently at a reception that was well attended by the political elite.

Beginning with the February 2011 general election, the day her active political career ended, Mary O’Rourke reflects on key events in her working life, including her brother Brian Lenihan’s bid for the presidency, the Eircom sell-off, the infamous ‘St Valentine’s Day Massacre’ when Albert Reynolds took power, and party tensions in the run up to the most recent election. 

She describes life as a woman in the male world of politics, the sexism she sometimes had to deal with, and the difficulties of balancing her busy career with raising a family. Devastated as she was by her defeat in 2011, losing an election does not compare with losing loved ones and Mary has had more than her fair share of tragic losses over the years: the untimely death of her beloved husband Enda, her brothers Brian and Paddy, and more recently her nephew and former Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan - all of whom she remembers here.

Although they have become more frequent in recent years, Irish political memoirs are still relatively rare.  Even rarer still are political memoirs that are frank, newsworthy and fun, like this one from Mary O’Rourke.

Just Mary: A Memoir is published by Gill & Macmillan and is in shops now.