104 Facts About Mary McAleese


Mary Patricia McAleese is an Irish activist lawyer and former politician who served as the eighth president of Ireland from November 1997 to November 2011.


Mary McAleese is an academic and author and holds a licentiate and doctorate in Canon law.


Mary McAleese succeeded Mary Robinson, making her the second female president of Ireland, and the first woman in the world to succeed another woman as president.


Mary McAleese nominated herself for re-election in 2004 and was returned unopposed for a second term.


Mary McAleese is the first president of Ireland to have come from either Northern Ireland or Ulster.


Mary McAleese worked as a barrister and as a journalist with RTE.


Mary McAleese is an Honorary Fellow of St Edmund's College, Cambridge.


Mary McAleese used her time in office to address issues concerning justice, social equality, social inclusion, anti-sectarianism and reconciliation.


Mary McAleese is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders and was ranked the 64th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.


In spite of some minor controversies, Mary McAleese remained popular and her presidency is regarded as successful.


Mary McAleese is a Catholic but grew up in a largely Protestant neighbourhood.


Mary McAleese studied law at Queen's University Belfast, graduating in 1973 with a Bachelor of Laws degree.


Mary McAleese was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 1974, and was later called to the Irish Bar.


Mary McAleese assisted his wife with some of her initiatives as president.


Ahead of the 2015 marriage equality referendum, Justin Mary McAleese spoke publicly about growing up gay.


Also in 1975, Mary McAleese chaired a meeting at Liberty Hall that advocated a woman's right to choose and was quoted as saying that "I would see the failure to provide abortion as a human rights issue".


Mary McAleese later claimed that she was given to understand that the nature of the meeting was to be a discussion among all sides and opinions.


Mary McAleese left this position in 1979, to join RTE as a journalist and presenter, during one period as a reporter and presenter for their Frontline replaced by Today Tonight in 1980 programme.


Mary McAleese was critical of the Provisional IRA, but believed it was important to hear their side of the story; she opposed the Harris faction's support for Section 31, which she believed was an attack on free speech.


Mary McAleese stood, unsuccessfully, as a Fianna Fail candidate in the Dublin South-East constituency at the 1987 general election, receiving 2,243 votes.


Mary McAleese co-chaired the working party on sectarianism setup by the Irish Inter-Church Meeting in 1991 and its report was described by Professor Marianne Elliot as "the most notable" work of the Inter-Church Meetings.


Mary McAleese was the author and presenter of a successful BBC Radio Ulster series called "The Protestant Mind" which encouraged the divided communities in Northern Ireland to try to stand in each other's shoes.


Mary McAleese was a member of the Catholic Church Episcopal Delegation to the New Ireland Forum in 1984, and a member of the Catholic Church delegation to the Northern Ireland Commission on Contentious Parades in 1996.


Mary McAleese was a delegate to the 1995 White House Conference on Trade and Investment in Ireland and to the subsequent Pittsburgh Conference in 1996.


Mary McAleese is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network of current and former women Presidents and Prime Ministers, whose mission is to mobilise the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.


In 1997, Mary McAleese defeated former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds and former minister Michael O'Kennedy in an internal party election held to determine the Fianna Fail nomination for the Irish presidency.


Mary McAleese described the theme of her presidency as "building bridges".


The first individual born in Northern Ireland to become President of Ireland, President Mary McAleese was a regular visitor to Northern Ireland throughout her presidency, where she was on the whole warmly welcomed by both communities, confounding critics who had believed she would be a divisive figure.


Mary McAleese is an admirer of Queen Elizabeth II, whom she came to know when she was Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University of Belfast.


In March 1998, President Mary McAleese stated that she would officially celebrate the Twelfth of July as well as Saint Patrick's Day, recognising the day's importance among Ulster Protestants.


Mary McAleese incurred some criticism from some of the Irish Catholic hierarchy by taking communion in a Church of Ireland Cathedral, in Dublin, on 7 December 1997, although 78 percent of Irish people approved of her action in a following opinion poll.


Mary McAleese told the cardinal that she was the "President of Ireland and not just of Catholic Ireland".


Mary McAleese was re-inaugurated at the commencement of her second seven-year term on 11 November 2004.


Mary McAleese later apologised, conceding that her comments had been unbalanced because she had criticised only the sectarianism found on one side of the community.


Mary McAleese was the Commencement Speaker at Villanova University in Villanova, Pennsylvania, on 22 May 2005.


Mary McAleese was the commencement speaker at the University of Notre Dame on 21 May 2006.


Mary McAleese attended the funeral of Pope John Paul II on 8 April 2005, and the Papal Inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI on 24 April 2005.


Mary McAleese attended the canonisation by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome of Charles of Mount Argus on 3 June 2007.


Mary McAleese was accompanied by her husband, Martin, Cardinal Desmond Connell, Mary Hanafin, the Minister for Education and Science, together with bishops and other pilgrims.


Mary McAleese later met the Pope and embarked on other official duties, including a trip to St Isidore's College, a talk at the Pontifical Irish College and a Mass said especially for the Irish Embassy at Villa Spada chapel.


Mary McAleese paid a seven-day visit to Hollywood in December 2008, alongside Enterprise Ireland and the Irish Film Board on a mission to promote the Irish film and television industry.


Mary McAleese later met the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Mary McAleese began an official visit to New York City for several days, on 16 May 2010.


Mary McAleese began by appearing at an Irish Voice event in honour of life science.


Mary McAleese then addressed business leaders at the New York Stock Exchange to say Irish people were "as mad as hell" over the Irish banking crisis, and opened the An Gorta Mor exhibition with a speech promising that Ireland's foreign policy focussed on global hunger.


Mary McAleese was present at St Patrick's Cathedral for a Famine mass and went to the Battery Park City's Irish Hunger Memorial to see the official New York commemoration of the 19th-century Irish Famine.


Mary McAleese opened the Bloom Festival, Ireland's largest gardening show, on 3 June 2010, acknowledging an improved interest in gardening in Ireland, particularly among younger people.


On 13 June 2010, Mary McAleese began an official visit to China.


Mary McAleese met with Vice President of China Xi Jinping and the pair spoke for 35 minutes over lunch.


Mary McAleese made an official visit to Russia, with Minister of State, Billy Kelleher, for four days in September 2010, and met with President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev.


Mary McAleese spoke kindly of Mikhail Gorbachev, officially invited Medvedev to Ireland, and addressed students at a university in Saint Petersburg.


Mary McAleese called for warmer relations between the European Union and Russia.


In March 2011, President Mary McAleese invited Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom to make a state visit to Ireland.


Mary McAleese had been eager to have the Queen visit Ireland, and the event was widely welcomed as a historic success.


In past media interviews, prior to the Queen's visit, President Mary McAleese had stated on several occasions that the highlight of her presidency to date was the opening ceremony of the 2003 Special Olympics World Games, which she describes as "a time when Ireland was at its superb best".


Mary McAleese made her final overseas visit as head of state to Lebanon in October 2011, the location of her very first official overseas visit in 1997.


Mary McAleese performed her last official public engagement at a hostel for homeless men in Dublin in the morning and spent the afternoon moving out of Aras an Uachtarain.


Mary McAleese was awarded a doctorate in Canon Law in 2018 at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University.


In 2012, Mary McAleese was announced as the Chair of the European Commission High Level Group on the Modernisation of Higher Education in the European Union.


In 2013, Mary McAleese was appointed Chair of the Von Hugel Institute at the University of Cambridge.


In March 2013, Mary McAleese was named as the Burns Scholar at Boston College, USA.


In 2014, McAleese was appointed Distinguished Professor in Irish Studies at St Mary's University, Twickenham In 2015, McAleese was visiting fellow at the University of Notre Dame, USA.


In 2018 Mary McAleese was awarded a doctorate in Canon Law at the Pontifical Gregorian University.


In October 2017, Mary McAleese was appointed a Canon of the Church of Ireland's Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin and is a regular homilist at services there.


On 1 October 2018, Mary McAleese was appointed Professor of Children, Law and Religion at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, a joint appointment between the university's College of Arts and College of Social Sciences.


On 1 November 2019, Mary McAleese was elected as Chancellor of Trinity College Dublin.


Mary McAleese is an executive fellow of the Notre Dame School of Global Affairs and Chair of the Institute for Global Religions.


Mary McAleese is an alumna of the Pontifical Gregorian University where she obtained her licentiate of canon law in 2014 and a doctorate of canon law in 2018.


On 22 September 2018, Mary McAleese publicly defended her thesis on "Children's Rights and Obligations in Canon Law" at the Pontifical Gregorian University.


Mary McAleese holds a Masters in Canon Law from the Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy.


On International's Women Day, Mary McAleese described the Catholic Church as "an empire of misogyny".


Mary McAleese was due to speak on a panel at a Voices of Faith conference in the Vatican on International Women's Day in 2018 on Women in the Church.


Irish born Cardinal Kevin Farrell and Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life banned Mary McAleese from speaking in the Vatican.


On 5 November 2019, Mary McAleese delivered the annual Edmund Burke lecture at Trinity College Dublin.


Mary McAleese's lecture was entitled "The Future of Ireland: Human Rights and Children's Rights".


Mary McAleese has written to Pope Francis threatening to quit the Catholic Church if it comes to light the Vatican "failed to act to protect members of the L'Arche community" from the organization's founder Jean Vanier.


Mary McAleese founded L'Arche in 1964 to work with the intellectually disabled.


Mary McAleese has strongly promoted closer ties between Ireland and the People's Republic of China, meeting frequently with officials from that country's ruling Chinese Communist Party, including Xi Jinping and former President Hu Jintao.


Mary McAleese was its legal advisor from 1975 until 1979 when she joined RTE as a current affairs journalist.


Mary McAleese was 21 and studying law at Queen's University Belfast.


Mary McAleese's job involved preparing food for airlines; a supervisor, "a charming, lovely man", told her he was gay.


Mary McAleese was wounded at being rejected by his family.


In 2008, Mary McAleese addressed a gay youth forum in Galway and encouraged people to confront those who make anti-gay remarks.


Mary McAleese said that being gay was "not a choice but a discovery".


In 2010, Mary McAleese addressed the LGBT Diversity National Conference in Dublin.


In 2011, Mary McAleese declined an invitation to be the New York City St Patrick's Day parade Grand Marshall.


Mary McAleese said that when the research is broken down, it shows that young gay men are one of the most risk-prone groups in Ireland.


Mary McAleese said many of these young men will have gone to Catholic schools and they will have heard there their church's attitude to homosexuality.


Mary McAleese went on to say "And when they make the discovery, and it is a discovery and not a decision, when they make the discovery, that they are gay, when they are 14,15 or 16, an internal conflict of absolutely appalling proportions opens up".


Mary McAleese said many young gay men are driven into a place that is "dark and bleak".


Mary McAleese said she met the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Charles John Brown, shortly after Easter to raise with him her concern about the growing number of suicides among young men in Ireland.


In May 2015, in advance of the marriage equality referendum, Mary McAleese described same-sex marriage as a "human rights issue" as she and her husband Martin called for a Yes vote in the upcoming referendum.


Mary McAleese highlighted the problems in Ireland of suicide among young males.


In June 2018, Mary McAleese attended Dublin Pride for the first time along with her husband, son Justin and his husband Fionan Donohoe.


In 2016, Mary McAleese received the "Ally of the year" award from GALA's.


In June 2016, Mary McAleese urged the British to vote to remain in the EU.


Mary McAleese warned that Britain's departure could result in the return of border controls on the island of Ireland and a cause a "potential drift" in the peace process.


Mary McAleese said the "chances of customs controls being reconstituted are probably greater as they had been eliminated by EU laws, not Anglo-Irish efforts".


Mary McAleese challenged claims by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove who frequently repeated claims that the position on the island of Ireland would not change.


Mary McAleese said, "I don't know that to be and they do not know that".


In 2017, Mary McAleese described Brexit as like "pulling a tooth with 10,000 roots".


Mary McAleese said that Northern Ireland will be the only part of the UK that will share a land border with an EU state post-Brexit and she feared that checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would be an inevitable consequence of the UK leaving EU.


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar responded to Mary McAleese's concerns saying "I understand her concerns but it is one area that I am very sure about that's that there won't be a requirement to produce a passport to travel to Northern Ireland".


On 29 March 2019, Mary McAleese addressed the Brexit Institute at DCU.