Mary McAleese Mary Robinson
Michael Collins William Cosgrave
John Costello Eamon De Valera
(Sir) Roger Casement Arthur Griffith
Daniel O'Connell Bob Geldof


President Mary McAleese 1997-
President Mary McAleese (46) LLB, MA, MIL, FRSA. Pro Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University Belfast and Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies. Director of Channel 4 Television, of the publicly quoted major utility Northern Ireland Electricity and of the Royal Group of Hospitals Trust. She was a delegate to the 1995 White House Conference on Trade and Investment in Ireland and the follow-up Pittsburgh Conference in 1996.

She became president of Ireland in 1997 and was re-elected (unapposed) again in 2004


Born Mary Leneghan, Belfast, 27 June 1951. Her father is from Croghan, Co. Roscommon and her mother is from Maghera, Co Derry. Mary's father had a famous pub in the Falls area of Belfast, the Long Bar on Leeson Street.
After losing business and home in Belfast due to sectarian violence, Mary's parents moved in the early 1970s to Rostrevor, Co Down. Mary is the eldest of nine children. Family holidays were spent in Roscommon and Mary still takes breaks there, at her grandparents' cottage at Croghan.


Mary attended secondary school on the Falls Road in Belfast and went on to study law at Queen's University Belfast, graduating with an Honours LLB in 1973. She studied to be a barrister and was called to the Northern Ireland Bar in 1974 where she then took up practice, mainly in criminal and family law work.
In 1975, at the age of 24, she was appointed Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology, Trinity College Dublin, engaging in considerable research on the Constitution, prisons, computerisation of prison records, child custody and attitudes to crime.
In 1979, she joined RTE as a current affairs journalist and presenter on Frontline and later Today Tonight. She returned to the Reid Professorship at Trinity in 1981, continuing part-time with RTE, presenting the first dedicated EU current affairs programme, Europa, as well as a weekly radio programme of mixed current affairs and light entertainment and a summer programme on the courts. In 1987, Mary was appointed Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies which trains barristers and solicitors for the legal profession in Northern Ireland. She is credited with reinventing the institute after a difficult period prior to 1987. It is regarded as one of the most pioneering departments in Queen's University.
Mary continues as its director and since 1994 has also been a Pro Vice-Chancellor of Queen's, making her a member of the small senior management team which runs the university. She is the first female in the history of the university to hold one of the three Pro Vice-Chancellor positions.
She has established outreach campuses of Queen's at Armagh and Omagh and has developed links between these and Dublin City University and other universities in the Republic.
Mary is regularly invited as a guest lecturer and has spoken at the William Mitchell Law School, Minneapolis, the International School, Paris, Bristol University, Institute of Advocacy, Oxford, Newcastle University, was a course consultant at Nottingham Law School and the University of Wales, is an external examiner for the King's Inn, Dublin, and advised the joint forum on legal training in the Republic of Ireland.


Mary married Martin McAleese in 1976. Martin played with the Antrim Minors and was captain of the team in 1969. Martin trained and worked as an accountant and then qualified as a dentist. He now practices as a dentist in Crossmaglen and Bessbrook, Co Armagh
Martin moved to Dublin in 1972 and trained with Stokes, Kennedy, Crowley chartered accountants in Dublin. He later worked as financial controller for an Aer Lingus subsidiary. He went back to full-time education at Trinity College Dublin in 1980 to train as a dentist.
Mary and Martin married in 1976 and lived first in Scholarstown, Co Dublin for a short period and then for almost 12 years near Ratoath, Co Meath. The couple have three children, Emma(15) and twins SaraMai and Justin(12), who were born while Mary and Martin lived in Co Meath. The family moved to Rostrevor, Co Down in 1987 when Martin set up practice in Co Armagh. Mary was subsequently appointed Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen's.


Mary is familiar with sign language and introduced a module in sign language into solicitor's training in Northern Ireland, the first such course in European legal training. She has a Diploma in Spanish and is a Member of the Institute of Linguists.
She has a long-standing interest in the rights of the disabled, has been involved in anti-sectarian campaigning, has special expertise in communications, has experience in academic leadership and management and in the implementation and management of change, particularly in equal opportunities and fair employment. Mary has a strong track record of involvement in community issues and experience at board level of major companies.
She was a member of the Catholic Church Episcopal Delegation to the New Ireland Forum in 1984, a founder member of the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas and an early campaigner on behalf of the Maguire family, the Birmingham 6 and the Guildford 4. She was a member of the Catholic Church's five-person delegation, led by Cardinal Daly and Archbishop Brady in December 1996, to the North Commission on Contentious Parades in Northern Ireland.
She has been widely published and has been the subject of recent Ulster Television and RTE Radio documentaries. She has presented a series of radio programmes for BBC Radio Ulster and Radio 4 and is a regular contributor to newspapers, journals and radio and tv programmes. She has been invited to be a guest lecturer in Sydney Australia.
She followed Seamus Heaney as the recipient of the Gilmartin Medal for giving the Gilmartin lecture at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin in 1996. She gave the international John Main Seminar when it was held in Dublin this year for the first time. It was previously given by the Dalai Lama.

Mary Robinson
Mary Robinson was Ireland's previous President of Ireland (Irish: Uachtaraán Na hÉireann), from 1990-97, she was the first woman to become President of Ireland and is by far the most popular President of Ireland. She has now been proceeded by Mary McAleese. Below is a biographical note:
See Other Presidents & Taoiseachs of Ireland
Born 21 May 1944, Ballina, County Mayo, married Nicholas Robinson in 1970 and has three children: Theresa, William & Aubrey

Third Level Education

Dublin University - B.A. (1st class Moderatorship) 1967
(Trinity College) - M.A. (1970) & LL.B. (1st class) 1967
King's Inns, Dublin: - Degree of Barrister at Law (1st class) 1967
Harvard University: - Fellowship 1967 & LL.M. (1st class) 1968

Occupation & Appointments

President of Ireland 1990 - 1997
Senator 1969-89
Barrister 1967
Senior Counsel 1980
Member of the English Bar (Middle Temple) 1973
Founder & Director, Irish Centre for European Law 1988-90
Reid Professor of Constitutional and Criminal Law, Trinity College, Dublin 1969 - 1975
Lecturer in European Community Law, TCD 1975-90
Member, Editorial Board of Irish Current Law Statues Annotated 1984-90
Member, Irish Parliamentary Joint Committee on EC Secondary Legislation 1973-89
Chairman of its Social Affairs Sub-Committee 1977-87
Chairman of its Legal Affairs Committee 1987-89
Member, Dublin City Council 1979-83
Member, New Ireland Forum 1983-84
President of "CHERISH", the Irish association of single parents 197 -90
Member, Irish Parlimentary Joint Committee on Marital Breakdown 198 - 85
Member, Vedel Committee, EC (Enlargement of European Parliament) 1971-72
Member, Saint-Geours Committee, EC (Energy Efficiency) 1978-79
Member, Advisory Board of Common Market Law Review 1976-90
Member, Advisory Committee of Interrights, London 1984-90
Member, International Commission of Jurists, Geneva 1987-90
Member of the Committee of Management, European Air Law Association 1989-90
Member of the Scientific Council of European Review of Public Law 1989-90
Member of Chambers, 2 Hare Court London, 1989-90
Member, Royal Irish Academy, 1991
General Rapporteur, "Human Rights at the Dawn of the 21st Century", Council of Europe, Strasbourg, 1993
President Mary Robinson has also received may honours & awards from countries such as: Ireland, England, Australia, America, Portugal, Spain, Tanzania, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand & Switerland.

Michael Collins

Collins, Michael (1890-1922), Irish patriot and soldier, born in Clonakilty. From 1906 to 1916 Collins worked as a clerk in London, where he joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a revolutionary group working for Irish independence from British rule. He participated in the Easter rebellion of 1916 in Dublin and was captured and was interned at Frongoch (Wales), where he emerged as the natural leader of the prisoners.. After his release he became one of the chief workers for Irish freedom as a leader in the Sinn Féin movement. In 1918 he was again arrested. Later, in spite of persistent attempts to capture him, he eluded the police and helped colleagues to escape. While still a fugitive, he was elected to the Sinn Féin revolutionary parliament and served as finance minister. From 1919 to 1921 Collins organised the guerrilla warfare that succeeded in forcing Great Britain to sue for peace.

After de Valera left for America (June 1919) on an 18 month fund raising tour, Collins became the dominant figure in the revolution (although Cathal Brugha, the IRA's Commander-in-Chief, disliked him intensely). At various times, Collins held positions as (1) President of the Supreme Council of the IRB, (2) A leader, but not Commander-in-Chief of the IRA, (3) Sinn Féin member of the Dail, (4) Commander-in-Chief of the Free State Army, (5) Minister of Finance in the 1919 Provisional Government of the RoI, and (6) Cabinet member in the first post-treaty government. He is best know for his brilliant work during the Anglo-Irish war in setting up the IRA's extremely effective intelligence and counter-intelligence unit that time and time again saved the IRA forces to fight another day. He and Griffith were the leaders of the team that negotiated the treaty that gave near independence to the 26 counties, while partitioning off 6 counties. During the post-treaty war, he was ambushed and killed by anti-treaty guerillas. Had he lived, he certainly would have competed with de Valera for political dominance in the Irish state.
Click here for further information or Michael Collins the movie (external links)



William Cosgrave
Cosgrave, William Thomas (1880-1965), prime minister of the Irish Free State (1922-32). A member of the Sinn Féin nationalist movement, Cosgrave participated in the Easter rebellion of 1916 against the British and was imprisoned several times for revolutionary activities. A supporter of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which partitioned Ireland (1921), he became president of the executive council (premier) in the new Irish Free State established the following year. During his tenure he cultivated good relations with Britain, played a prominent role among the leaders of the Commonwealth nations, curbed the activities of the Irish Republican Army, and strengthened the economy by sponsoring the Shannon hydroelectric project. Although his party, Cumann na nGaedheal (Society of Gaels; later, Fine Gael, the United Ireland party), did not have a majority in Parliament, he was able to remain in power because of a boycott of the assembly by the Republican opposition. Replaced as premier by Republican leader Eamon De Valera in 1932, Cosgrave served as leader of Fine Gael until 1944.


John Costello

Costello, John Aloysius (1891-1976), Irish statesman, born in Dublin, and educated at University College, Dublin, of the National University of Ireland. He was admitted to the bar in 1914. Costello participated in the Easter rebellion of 1916. From 1926 to 1932 he was attorney general of the Irish Free State (Éire, after 1937), and he was also its delegate to the League of Nations. In 1948 the Dáil, the lower house of the legislature of Éire, elected him prime minister to replace Eamon De Valera, who had served since 1932. Costello and De Valera alternated as prime minister, Costello serving from 1948 until 1951 and from 1954 until 1957. He was leader of the opposition from 1951 to 1954 and from 1957 to 1959; he retained his seat until 1969.

Eamon De Valera De Valera, Eamon (1882-1975), Irish republican leader, was Ireland's first prime minister (1937-48; also in 1951-54 and 1957-59) and its president (1959-73). He was born on October 14, 1882, in New York City, and educated at Royal University, Dublin. During his early life he was a student and teacher of mathematics in Ireland. He soon became well known as an activist for Irish independence. He led a group of Sinn Féin rebels during the uprising of Easter Week, 1916, and was sentenced to life imprisonment when the British quelled the revolt. He was released in the general amnesty of 1917. Later that year, when the Irish republican members of the British Parliament resigned to form their own government, he was elected president of the Sinn Féin party.

De Valera was rearrested by the British in May 1918 on the charge of suspicion and rebellion, but he escaped (1919) with the help of a group of Sinn Feiners. He then went to the United States, where he raised more than $5 million to support the revolutionary movement; he was also elected president of an Irish republican government in exile. He resigned in 1922, when the Dáil Éireann (Irish Parliament) ratified a treaty with Great Britain that De Valera had denounced as a humiliating compromise. Because of his opposition, the Irish Free State government, officially recognised by this same treaty, imprisoned him in 1923. Released after 11 months, he again became head of the Sinn Féin party, which did not participate in the Dáil until 1927. In that year a dissident faction of Sinn Féin the Fianna Fáil, re-entered the Dáil headed by De Valera.

De Valera was president of the executive council of the Irish Free State from 1932 to 1937 and was elected premier of Eire under the new constitution of 1937. In 1932 De Valera served as president of the League of Nations council and in 1938 as president of its assembly. At home, his policies were consistently characterised by nationalism and isolationism, both political and economic. In 1938 he approved the appeasement policy of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain; during World War II De Valera successfully advocated a policy of neutrality for Ireland. He lost the premiership in 1948, but occupied the post twice again until 1959, when he was elected president of Ireland. He was reelected president in 1966. In 1973 De Valera retired from public life. He died near Dublin on August 29, 1975.

Painting by
Joonas Sirvio

Arthur Griffith

Griffith, Arthur (1872-1922), Irish nationalist leader, who negotiated the treaty partitioning Ireland. Griffith was born in Dublin on March 31, 1872. In 1899 he founded the weekly United Irishman, to which such well-known Irish writers as Æ (George William Russell) and William Butler Yeats contributed. Griffith himself wrote eloquent editorials urging the Irish to work for self-government. In 1902 he founded a group that later became the nucleus of Sinn Fein; this movement initially advocated an autonomous Ireland under the British Crown.

Although Griffith took no overt part in the Easter Rising of 1916, the British imprisoned him as a nationalist leader. He was released the following year, but was again imprisoned in 1918. After the armistice of 1918, a general election put the Sinn Fein leaders into power, and the new members of Parliament, meeting as the Dáil Éireann, or "Assembly of Ireland", elected Griffith vice-president of an Irish republic, under President Eamon De Valera. In 1921 he accepted the responsibility of leading a delegation to London to negotiate the treaty that established the Irish Free State and separated Northern Ireland from the rest of the country. Griffith was elected first president of the duly constituted Dáil Éireann in January 1922, but he died the following August 12, shortly after the outbreak of the Irish civil war between those who accepted partition and those who opposed it.


Sir Roger Casement

Casement, Sir Roger David (1864-1916), Irish patriot, born in Sandycove, near Dublin. After holding consular posts in the British foreign service in several parts of Africa between 1892 and 1903, Casement returned to England to present to the Foreign Office the results of his two-year study of the inhuman treatment of the native population in Congo Free State, then the personal holding of Leopold II, King of the Belgians. World opinion was aroused by Casement's report, with its detailed, eyewitness accounts of atrocities, and the Belgian king was eventually forced to relinquish his personal sovereignty over the Congo.

Plagued by ill health, and disdaining the posts offered by the Foreign Office, Casement remained in the British Isles for almost three years. During this time he seriously considered resigning but could not afford to do so. Finally, in 1906, he accepted a post in Brazil, where he served as consul in various cities for the next years. In 1910-1911, he again investigated and exposed conditions of brutal exploitation, this time of the Native Americans of Brazil. For these services he was knighted in 1911. As a result of his findings (published by Parliament in 1912) the British company he accused was dissolved in 1913.

Casement retired from consular service and in 1913 returned to Ireland. A dedicated Irish nationalist, he took an active part in the movement for Irish independence. He sought help for the Irish cause, first in America and then, after World War I broke out, in Germany, where he remained until 1916. In March 1916, the Germans agreed to send 20,000 rifles to Ireland to help the Easter Rebellion, an uprising of Irish patriots. The British intercepted the arms and captured Casement after he landed from a German submarine near Tralee in County Kerry three days before the Easter Rebellion on April 24. Imprisoned in the Tower of London, he was convicted of high treason and hanged. For the Irish, Casement died a martyr: his remains were removed from England in 1965 and reburied in Ireland.


Daniel O'Connell

"Ireland has never produced a greater man than Daniel O'Connell" and few achieved as much in working to uplift a people from the degrading status of religious and political serfdom. Considered a father of Ireland's freedom movement he fought for the Repeal of the Act of Union and gained emancipation for the Irish Catholics. His immense energy, drive and total commitment to justice won him admirers at home and abroad.

Born in 1775 near Cahirciveen, Co. Kerry, Daniel O'Connell was the son of a Catholic Landlord. He was adopted as an heir by his rich uncle, Maurice Hunting-Cap' O'Connell, who provided for his education in Belgium and France. In 1793 the Catholic Relief Act threw open the legal profession to Catholics and so began O'Connell's career as a barrister. In court he was to display his natural ability as a great orator and in later years his talents as a speaker served him well in his political career.

His first public speech in opposition to the Union, was made to the Catholic citizens of Dublin at the Royal Exchange on 13 January 1800. Within ten years of starting his career at the Bar, he became one of the best known advocates in the country. Popularly known as 'The Counsellor' he established himself as the champion of the ordinary Catholic.

In June 1802 he married his cousin Mary O'Connell secretly and settled in Westland Row. She was penniless and indeed it jeopardised his chances of inheriting his uncle's wealth - who would have expected him to marry a wealthy Lady! The marriage was a happy one, the only cause of distress being O'Connell's extravagant spending. He frequently lived beyond his means and was often over generous, lending large sums of money which he knew would never be returned. IN 1809 he upset both finances and his concerned wife by moving from Westland Row to the more fashionable and exclusive Merrion Square. She was however his confidante and strong support in his campaigns.

During 1840 the Municipal Reform Act became law, enabling Catholics to participate in local administration. The most sensational sequence of this act was the election of Daniel O'Connell as Lord mayor of Dublin in 1841m the first Catholic to hold the office since 1680's.

In 1840 Daniel O'Connell took upon himself one of the greatest challenges in the political history of Ireland - the repeal of the Act of Union. It was to be his toughest and most demanding struggle. At the Corn Exchange, Burg Quay, the inauguration of the new movement called the 'National Association of Ireland for Full and Prompt Justice and Repeal' took place.

In October 1829, he retired from the Bar to become a full time politician. For the remainder of his life, he was supported by 'The O'Connell Tribute', a public collection. He was the leader of a party, or 'O'Connell's Tail' as it was sometimes known. Believing that Repel would not be granted for some time, O'Connell sought reform. He made his last speech in Parliament on February 8th 1847 pleading for relief for his fellow countrymen suffering from famine. On pilgrimage to Rome, on May 15th of that year he died in Genoa, his body was returned for burial in Glasnevin on August 5th 1847.

Bob Geldof

Geldof, Bob (1951-), born in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin is a singer, songwriter and humanitarian.