What’s in a name that was once so popular in Ireland but seems to have fallen out of fashion in recent times?
It’s the first name of the country’s two women Presidents to date, of all women ministers in the government that took office after the election of 2007, and many TDs and senators.
Mary Banotti, Mary Coughlan, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Mary Hanafin, Mary Harney, Mary Henry, Máire Hoctor, Mary Lou McDonald, Mary O’Rourke, Mary Robinson, Mary Upton, Mary Wallace, Mary White and President Mary McAleese
In There’s Something about Mary, leading Irish women politicians named Mary (or Máire) speak frankly to former MEP Mary Banotti – herself a veteran of many election campaigns and once dubbed ‘gallant loser of the year’. They reflect on the importance of position in the family – many Marys were the eldest child of the eldest girl. They describe what drew them to political life and how they coped with the terrors of selection conventions, elections campaigns and the possibility or reality of defeat.
‘Having it all’ was a cliché often heard in the early decades of women’s liberation: all the politicians interviewed address the question of whether such a thing was possible for them. As well as success and ambition, what emerges from these fascinating interviews are the qualities of courage and determination and human stories of triumph and failure, celebration and bereavement.