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7 ways Mary Robinson shaped Irish culture in the 90s

There really WAS something about Mary.

ON THIS DAY in 1990, Mary Robinson was elected as Ireland’s first female president.

But that wasn’t the only impact she had. The country was crazy for Mary.

Here are just a few ways that 90s Ireland was shaped by our inaugural Mná na hÉireann.

1. ‘The Tapestry’

Oh tapestry, what is your purpose?

Ireland’s Mona Lisa may be gone from its rightful place in a shop-front on Dame Street, but its mythical legacy lives on to this day.

The Mary Robinson tapestry was the centre of a Facebook campaign to make it the president of Ireland back in the 2011 election. Unfortunately, it wasn’t successful.

maryrobinsontapestry Facebook Facebook


2. Television

Mary Robinson’s election shook Irish television schedules to their core. RTÉ infamously broadcast her victory speech instead of the angelus, the ANGELUS!

Let’s not forget her first ever interview as president elect when she appeared on the institution that is The Den. Dustin suggested she had smelly feet and she laughed like the casual cool president she was, serving us a due reminder that she saved us from having a turkey as a president.

maryrobinson-2 Tumblr Tumblr

3. The charts

Dustin the Turkey’s chart topper* ‘Mary’ was a tribute to the woman herself, lifting the nation’s spirits after she resigned from office in 1997. The lyrics softened the blow.

Ireland’s children you’ve been rearing,
‘Cause you’re Mná na hEireann,
And even though you’re gone, Your memory lingers on.

A nation mourned.


*not really.

4. Her haircut

Forget ‘the Rachel’, the Robinson was the haircut to been seen with in 90s Ireland. This was perfectly highlighted on the Moone Boy episode, ‘Bunch of Marys’.

Look at her there with her strong hands and bouncy hair. She’s like the Joan of Arc of Connaught.


Of course you had to get the polo neck and blazer to match.


More like Mná na HAIReann.

5. Fashion sense

Not only was Mary the leader of the country, she was also a leader in the fashion stakes.

That coat!

00000939 Photocall Ireland Photocall Ireland

Those earrings!

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That dress suit and sheer tights that just screams ‘I mean business’!

00000950 Photocall Ireland! Photocall Ireland!

We now know to hold Robinson responsible for the mass influx of Celtic knot clip-ons among middle aged women.

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6. The name ‘Mary’

Marys are great. They’re so great, there’s even a whole book dedicated to them. Mary Robinson played just a small part in this.

mary / Nicola Byrne / Nicola Byrne / Nicola Byrne

It was the kind of Irish name where each Mary needed a specific nickname to tell her apart from the rest. Robinson’s name isn’t technically Mary, but we’re willing to look past this.

I think I got my name [Marie Therese Winifrid] because my mother had assumed I would be the only girl and she gave me as many names as she could. I have always been known as Mary.

Mary brought Mary back, with the name slightly climbing up the baby name charts in the nineties. Coincidence? We think NOT.

7. Attitudes

Attitudes towards a female president weren’t always rife in Ireland before Maire bounced along with her fab hair and stern voice.


Moone Boy knew it:

A woman for president, is it? That’d be a lot for her to take on. I wouldn’t ask her to do that now.

But sure didn’t she want to be a president, and as told in her Desert Island Discs, despite the odds being largely against her at 100/1, she did.

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