Cork author and journalist Flor MacCarthy is one of three contributors to a series of free lectures in the City Library this Saturday as the History Roadshow arrives Leeside.
Ms MacCarthy, author of the bestselling The Presidents’ Letters: An Unexpected History of Ireland, looks at Ireland’s only female presidents, Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese, who are also the only two living former presidents, through their presidential correspondence files.
Ms MacCarthy told The Echo she hoped her 2.30pm talk would cast new light on the two former presidents.
“When Mary McAleese succeeded Mary Robinson as President of Ireland, they became the first successive female heads of State to be elected in any country in the world,” Ms MacCarthy said.
Both women had followed remarkably similar career paths: each was a lawyer and academic who had campaigned on civil rights issues and both had been Reid Professor of Law at Trinity College Dublin (TCD).
As president, both pushed the boundaries of the office, giving a central place to Northern Ireland; Irish/UK relations; civil rights; and the opening up of Áras an Uachtaráin.
“However, each brought their own distinct personality, expertise and interests to the role of President,” Ms MacCarthy said.
Historian and author Liz Gillis will give a talk, “Treaty Women”, providing an insight into the women working with the delegates in London during the Treaty talks.
David McCullagh, de Valera biographer, historian and presenter of RTÉ’s Six One News, will start the day’s lectures with a 10am talk called “Wading through blood: de Valera’s 1922 and the coming of Civil War”.
He told The Echo the centenary gave an opportunity to face the divisions of the past, and to better understand the motivations and the actions of our ancestors.
“And if you’re not interested in that, both Liz and Flor are going to give great talks,” Mr McCullagh said.