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, which will be launched by former President Mary McAleese on Thursday 18 October in the National Library in Dublin.
Beginning with the February 2011 general election, the day her active political career ended, she 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 is frank about the characters she worked with, many of whom defined an era, among them Charlie Haughey, Garret FitzGerald, Pádraig Flynn and Bertie Ahern.
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. She also talks for the first time about her struggle to have children and her battle with post-natal depression, although it was not recognised as such at the time.
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 Books on 19 October 2012, priced at €22.99.
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