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Honesty is the best policy
Well, it’s served Mary O'Rourke well, at least. Now 71 years of age, she first entered the Dail in 1982 and has been a TD for well over 20 years – during which time she has held a number of key Ministerial positions. Here she talks with remarkable honesty and humour about her political career, the Lenihan dynasty, Charlie Haughey, losing her husband, treachery in Fianna Fáil – and, of course, orgasms.
Jason O'Toole, 25 Feb 2009
The article is an hilariously frank account of her difficulty in conceiving. It describes how both she and her husband visited a gynaecologist called De Valera to investigate the problem.
“He was a De Valera – I didn’t make him up! The doctor said Enda’s sperm was 100% mobile. Enda said, ‘Yipee! It’s not me anyway!’ We tried. And we tried and tried and tried and tried. And we went back to De Valera again.”
O’Rourke eventually conceived after four years. Jokingly, I comment that I’m sure she didn’t mind all the practising. She roars laughing and replies: “The trying, you mean?! It was a pure miracle,” she says, pausing, before steering the conversation back to her confessional article. “Yeah, that’s all pretty naked!’ she says. “Oh, Jesus! The book is coming out in April. I wrote very candidly! God, very candidly! I might go underground or something! I’m probably too frigging honest for my own good!”
As this interview demonstrates, O’Rourke is indeed that rare breed: a straight talking politician...
Jason O'Toole: Your family is an impressive political dynasty. Your father Patrick was a TD, as was your brother Brian, and your other brother Paddy was a councillor. Now, your two nephews, Brian and Conor Lenihan are Ministers in the government. There must have been something in your family’s DNA.
Mary Rourke: It was always politics in our house. My father was a really political guy. He was sort of ‘Mr Fianna Fáil – Athlone!’ People would come to him all the time. For example, when De Valera or Seán Lemass would come to make a big speech in the town they’d visit him. In fact, it was Lemass who sent my father to Athlone to set up Gentex textiles. My father was a tax inspector in Dublin Castle and Lemass met him in the course of his Ministerial duties and he was very taken by him because he was sparky and bright. So, he asked my father if he would go to Athlone to set up this cotton factory, which employed 1,000 people. He came home to my mother and their three children – Brian, Paddy and Ann and I was in her tummy – and he said to her, ‘Pack your bags, Annie; we’re going to Athlone!’ I used to always joke that I was the only native – the rest of them were blow-ins! I was the youngest by four years – I had a sister four years older than me and a brother Paddy five-and-a-half-years older than me and Brian was seven-years-older than me. So, I really was, what they called at that time in Ireland, ‘the last kick!’ Orgasm or not (laughs), there was usually a last kick and I was it.