PJ Mara, 71, joins old dads' club with birth of baby girl
SIR Paul McCartney did it when he was 61; Rod Stewart was 66; Rupert Murdoch was an impressive 72.
And now our very own PJ Mara has joined the older fathers' club. At 71 years of age, Charles J Haughey's former enforcer has become a dad again.
Just in time for Father's Day. The three-time director of elections for Fianna Fail is the proud new father of a little baby girl. Well-known faces have lined up to congratulate the new dad.
Speaking from the World Actor's Forum at the Gate Theatre, actor Sir Michael Gambon, who became a father again at 68, said congratulations were in order. "Becoming a father late in life was the greatest thing that has ever happened to me," he said.
Retired RTE chief news reporter Charlie Bird said: "I need to sit down. More power to him. Fair play to you Mara. Well done to him. He's the salt of the earth and a lovely man. I think it's great." Friend Ben Dunne said: "It wouldn't be for me personally, but congratulations are in order. I think it's great and the very best of luck to him".
Restaurateur Robbie Fox also expressed his delight: "I would have another baby in the morning, I would love to, so I think it's great. It will give him a new lease of life and I hope he enjoys every minute of it. Seventy is the new 50. Credit to him." Another of Mara's contemporaries, the 74-year-old RTE sports broadcaster Bill O'Herlihy, joked yesterday: "I wish him well but I'm glad it's not me."
Mara was married for 40 years to Breda Brogan, who died after a long illness in 2003. They had one son, John, who is in his thirties. John married Clare Murphy of Newbridge, Co Kildare, in 2005.
Mara masterminded Fianna Fail's public relations and election strategy for decades. He served several stints as government press secretary and as adviser to Haughey –but often had an abrasive relationship with the media.
The late Father Ted comic Dermot Morgan famously mimicked Mara's voice during gags on RTE Radio's Scrap Saturday show in the early 1990s. He bowed out of politics after the 2007 General Election to concentrate on his business. He joins a long list of older men who've fathered children in their latter years.
Charlie Chaplin had eight children with Oona O'Neill, the youngest was born when he was 73 and Oona was 37. Julio Iglesias Senior, grandfather of Enrique Iglesias, was 89 when his youngest son, Jaime, was born. Jaime is a half-brother to Julio Iglesias, the father of Enrique. He died at the age of 90.
John Tyler, the tenth US president fathered his youngest child, Pearl, at the age of 70. Michael Collins' father, also called Michael, was 75 when the Irish revolutionary leader was born.
TV host Des O'Connor had his fifth child, Adam, at 72.
Pablo Picasso was 68 years old when his youngest daughter, Paloma, was born in 1949.
Hollywood funnyman Steve Martin became a dad for the first time this year at 67. Playboy Hugh Hefner was 65 in 1991 when his then-wife Kimberley Conrad gave birth to their son, Cooper.