O’Rourke invites Athlone to book launch “party”

Former Minister and TD, Mary O’Rourke is hoping to use the launch of her memoir on Sunday to provide “a bit of a party for Athlone”.

The doughty veteran of nine general elections, and almost 30 years in the Dáil, will finally reveal some of the nation’s closely guarded secrets in the Shamrock Lodge on Sunday with the launch of her highly anticipated memoir Just Mary.

“The people of Athlone were good to me, and voted for me again and again...and I want to give a bit of a party for Athlone,” she said.

“Nine elections is a fair innings. I can’t complain,” said Mrs O’Rourke to the Advertiser on Thursday.

The book will be launched by Beechpark native, and Garda Ombudsman Carmel Foley, who was a student of Mrs O’Rourke’s in Summerhill College.

“I enjoyed my teaching,” she said of the early days.

Her memoir is published by Gill and Macmillan, and was formally launched by the former president, Mary McAleese yesterday, Thursday October 18, in Dublin.

Mrs O’Rourke will appear on the Late Late Show tonight, Friday October 19, will be signing in Eason’s tomorrow, Saturday October 20, and the hometown launch commences 6.30pm on Sunday October 21 including live music and refreshments.

“Mary O’Rourke is known as someone who always speaks her mind, and 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,” said a spokesperson for the publishers.

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 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.

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