Mary McAleese memoir: Fascinating, but not the full story

Book review: in Here’s the Story, the former president tells a lot, but not all, about her extraordinary career

In her new memoir Mary McAleese is both Catholic Church insider and outsider. Photograph: Patrick Browne/ The Irish Times

In her new memoir Mary McAleese is both Catholic Church insider and outsider. Photograph: Patrick Browne/ The Irish Times

Mary McAleese’s extraordinary career has taken her from law studies in a troubled Belfast in the late 1960s, to lecturing and journalism in Dublin, on to a two-term presidency of Ireland and then to Rome to complete a doctorate in canon law. She is an intriguing, accomplished and decorated public figure. This memoir is suffused with her customary mixture of frankness and folksiness, a style she honed to great effect as president.

The book addresses many of the conquests and controversies associated with her journey, but there are also issues elided or omitted. And as she gazes back on her tender years, it does seem that some of her later awareness and causes have perhaps been transplanted back to those days. What is most striking about her account is how her life has been enveloped by an intense religiosity, a vital driving force, and central to the extensive range of contacts she amassed and used skilfully over six decades.

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