Mildred Fox: Politician Turned Ice-cream Maker


THE NEWSMAKERS: WHERE ARE THEY NOW?:MILDRED FOX was catapulted into national politics, aged 24, when she won a Wicklow byelection as an Independent in June 1995. It followed the death of her father, Johnny Fox, who had won the seat in the 1992 general election.

The high point of her career was when she secured a constituency deal with other Independents in return for her support for the FF-PD government from 1997 to 2002, giving her the ear of the then taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, and his ministers.

“That was a great time, and I enjoyed politics. When I was elected first, I found myself lost, wandering around, feeling my way, and I even considered not running again.’’

While still a TD, Fox married Daryl Tighe, who works for Wicklow County Council at its Bray recycling centre, and they have four young children.

Her commitment to her children was the reason she retired early from politics at the 2007 general election – “The family had to come first.”

She now makes ice cream in what, she says, amounts to a part-time job. She established the business with her brother, Christy, using milk and cream from the dairy herd on his farm in their home base of Kilmacanogue. She sells the ice cream at the farmers’ market in Dún Laoghaire, Dublin.

Leaving politics, she says, led to a healthier lifestyle. “I lost two stone without even trying. There was much less time driving around, sitting at meetings and grabbing meals.”

A UCD graduate, Fox worked as a hotel front-office manager and was active in the GAA and Macra na Feirme before entering the Dáil.

Since leaving politics, she has renewed her interest in GAA, helping out with the local under-age teams.

“I have taken up set-dancing lessons, and I have a wreck of a camper in which we tour the country.”

She is still involved in the tight-knit local group which backed her and has remained intact as a support structure for Christy, who is an Independent member of Wicklow County Council.

“There are times I miss politics, especially the excitement of a general election. But I do not regret quitting.”