Sunday 25 March 2018

'She got engaged to me, we broke up and then she got engaged to another fella...' - Mary McAleese's husband Martin reveals their road to true love wasn't smooth

Former President Mary McAleese and her husband Martin
Former President Mary McAleese and her husband Martin
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

Mary McAleese got engaged to another man before realising her heart belonged to her previous fiancée Martin.

The former President first met her future husband-to-be though a debating competition as a 17-year-old girl attending St Dominic's High School in Belfast.

But she only invited Martin to her 18th birthday party as she was romantically interested in his friend, according to the former Senator.

Nonetheless, the relationship between the two began as the dentist told the Journal of the Irish Dental Association (JIDA): 'She ended up with me!'

The former accountant revealed the rocky road to love with his wife in an interview that features in the latest edition of the JIDA.

After an initial engagement between the pair, they broke up only for Mrs McAleese to get a ring from someone else.

"She got engaged to another fella... but she got sense! I would say that anyway," Dr McAleese joked as the pair will celebrate their 40th anniversary next year.

In the wide-ranging piece, McAleese also delves into the route to his career as a dentist and speaks about his part in the peace process.

Raised as a Catholic nationalist in a loyalist area of Belfast, he said he suffered verbal abuse for the first 20 years of his life and felt that he "could bring [this experience] to the table" when speaking to loyalist paramilitaries.

"They couldn't say that you don't understand.  I knew their streets, their pubs, their clubs, their schools, their churches. I had lived among them and their people," he said.

McAleese also revealed that his favourite moment of his wife Mary's presidency was when Queen Elizabeth II visited in 2011.

"It took the 14 years and I thought I would never see the day, but it happened. That was the highlight," he said. 

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