Tuesday 19 September 2017

Money isn't everything... it's more important to be happy and be with your family

Money talks with Mary O'Rourke

Mary O'Rourke
Mary O'Rourke
Louise McBride

by Louise McBride

Mary O'Rourke, who turns 80 this year, has a long political career behind her. A former TD and deputy leader of Fianna Fail, O'Rourke has served as Minister for Education, Minister for Public Enterprise, and Minister for Health.

Born in Athlone, Co Westmeath, she worked as a secondary school teacher before starting her political career.

Her father, Patrick Lenihan, was a TD for Longford-Westmeath, and her brother, Brian Lenihan Senior, was a government minister who served as Tanaiste in the late Eighties. The former Finance Minister, the late Brian Lenihan Junior, was her nephew.

O'Rourke has written some books, including Letters of My Life, published last autumn, and her memoir, Just Mary.

What is the most important lesson about money which your career as a politician has taught you?

Money isn't everything. It's much more important to be happy and with your family and to have time.

Are you better off than your parents?

I don't think so. My father was a successful businessman. He and my mother bought and ran the Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone, when it was a much smaller hotel than it is today and before it was taken over and extended.

When I was growing up, I thought that my parents never worried about money - that was certainly the impression they gave. I, on the other hand, did worry about money when I had a young family.

Apart from property, what's the most expensive thing you have ever bought?

A car. When I left public office, I bought my car - and it had been years since I had bought a car. I've an Audi A4 now.

What was your worst job?

Washing dishes in The Hodson Bay Hotel in my early teens.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

Spending a lot more on clothes than I should have. Nothing too extravagant though - I've never had a fur coat or a mink but I'd often be foolish about clothes.

What was your best financial killing?

Not sure if I have one. I go to the Kilbeggan Races every year. I haven't made or lost a lot of money there, though.

Android or iPhone?

I use the old-fashioned Nokia - and I'm glad to note that Enda Kenny is old-fashioned too and prefers his Nokia!

Do you know how much is in your current account?

Of course I do but I won't tell you! When my husband Enda died a few years ago, I merged all the bank accounts - so I just have the one now and I keep good track of it.

Have you ever made an insurance claim?

No.

Have you ever switched utility provider?

Yes, about a year ago, I switched from Electric Ireland to SSE Airtricity. I liked what SSE were saying about themselves - though I don't think I saved that much money when switching!

iTunes or Spotify?

Neither. I use CDs and the radio. When Enda died, I started coming home to an empty house. I took to leaving radios on in the kitchen, bedroom and so on - so that I'd hear voices when I walked into the house.

What was the last thing you bought online?

A holiday: three days in the Galway Bay Hotel. I went there last May with my lovely sister-in-law - the late Ann Lenihan, and her daughter Anita. We had beautiful May weather and it's a lovely memory.

Do you have a mortgage?

Not at all - it's long paid off. It was a fixed mortgage which Enda and I got through the county council. We got wed to the council in our early twenties!

Would you buy Irish property now?

No, I wouldn't be bothered. At my age, it's hard enough to look after the house that I have. I'm in my eightieth year - I will turn 80 this May.

Cash or card?

I'm a great believer in the card - but I always have a bit of cash on me. I rely on my card a lot, it's very handy.

What's your favourite Irish coin?

The salmon on the old silver 10p, which is taken from ancient Gaelic folklore.

Do you ever haggle?

I wouldn't haggle in a shop - but I've recently haggled over my car repair bill.

I brought my car for a big service and was taken aback by the bill. So I got on the phone and did a bit of haggling and the company did reduce it. That's the only haggling I've done in a long time.

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