The Mary Maher Bursary for aspiring journalists - applications closed

Bursary will support aspiring journalists in Ireland from under-represented backgrounds

Mary Maher bursary

Applications for the Irish Times Mary Maher Bursary 2022 have now closed.

This bursary has been set up in memory of Mary Maher, pioneering journalist, feminist activist and social justice campaigner. Journalism remains a keystone of our democracy and a desirable career. However, it may not be a pathway that is open to all.

The bursary aims to help students from backgrounds under-represented in the media and who face challenges in achieving a degree in journalism to pursue a career as a journalist.

The Irish Times is keen to engage with every sector of Irish society and to improve its representation of diverse audiences. In support of this goal, we particularly encouraged applications from students with diverse social and/or ethnic backgrounds who aspire to become journalists.


The bursary will include:

  • A contribution to cover the student charges for the duration of a journalism primary degree
  • Financial assistance towards accommodation/living expenses during the academic year
  • A practical paid work placement across Group titles during college holidays each year
  • Mentoring from an experienced journalist
  • The opportunity of a fixed-term contract in The Irish Times Group following successful completion of their studies

The closing date was May 31st 2022.


The Bursary was open to students living in Ireland over the age of 18 by September 1st, 2022, applying to third-level degree courses in journalism for 2022.

The selection criteria are as follows:

  • Applicants over the age of 18 by September 1st, 2022 who have applied to third level courses in journalism taught on the island of Ireland
  • Applicants will need to be able to show they would otherwise have difficulty in pursuing a journalism degree without financial support
  • Applicants will not already have a primary degree


The judging panel will select a shortlist from the applications received. These candidates will be invited to attend for interview. The successful applicant will be announced in September 2022, after CAO offers are issued.

Queries can be directed to

Who was Mary Maher?

Mary Maher was a journalist, a feminist and social justice activist. When she arrived in Ireland from Chicago for a three-month probation at The Irish Times in the mid-1960s she couldn’t have known she was to stay for the rest of her life.

Maher became women’s editor shortly after joining the newsroom in 1965 with a mandate from then editor Donal Foley to create a women’s page with “serious articles, scathing social attacks and biting satire”.

She described the task as combining “the real reporter bit with a concentrated focus on the wrongs of women, plus useful factual information for the women whose work happened to be running a home”.

Mary's sense of humour, combined with her unfailing generosity of spirit, were reflected in her enthusiastic encouragement of young journalists

Maher became a key founder member of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement in 1969 and campaigned for equality with a passionate and committed group of activists achieving both recognition and change over the decades that followed.

The late author and dear friend Maeve Binchy, who succeeded Maher as women’s editor, recalled: “Mary Maher from Chicago had the great advantage of not knowing the sacred cows and by the time she did know, she had enough courage not to care about them.”

Former Irish Times editor Conor Brady recalled how she “enlivened the news pages with her lyrical prose and sharp-eyed analysis of Irish social conditions”.

Irish Times Editor Paul O’Neill said Maher was among the last of an extraordinary first generation of women journalists who changed the newspaper and Irish journalism and contributed enormously to changing society.

Maher became the first Irish Times woman to return to work after marriage and the first to get paid maternity leave.

She became the first “mother”, or shop steward, of the National Union of Journalists chapel at the paper and held many senior union positions thereafter.

She became the first NUJ member appointed to the Employment Appeals Tribunal, in 2017 editing a book on its history.

She died in November 2021.

She was a trailblazer who made a sustained contribution to the improvement of Irish society

She is survived by her daughters Maeve and Nóra, grandchildren Níon, Kit and Finn, her brother Jerome and her sister Bonnie.

Remembering her, Séamus Dooley, Assistant General Secretary, National Union of Journalists said: “Mary Maher’s passion for equality informed every aspect of her crowded life. A journalist, trade unionist, feminist and a tireless campaigner for progressive social change, Mary believed that everyone had a right to be heard.

“In the pages of The Irish Times, she gave voice to those on the margins and provided a platform for many whose stories had not previously been told.

“Mary’s sense of humour, combined with her unfailing generosity of spirit, were reflected in her enthusiastic encouragement of young journalists. She was a trailblazer who made a sustained contribution to the improvement of Irish society.

“It is fitting that she should be honoured with a bursary aimed at developing new talent and enhancing diversity within Irish journalism.”