Magnus Linklater

Fleet Street’s ‘wild Irish girl’

A review of Mary Kenny’s Something of Myself and Others. Life lived to the hilt

Fleet Street’s ‘wild Irish girl’
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Something of Myself and Others

Mary Kenny

Liberties Press, pp. 217, £

In her early days on Fleet Street, Mary Kenny, as she herself admits, was cast as ‘the wild Irish girl’, and did her best to live up to it. She held her own with the drinkers at El Vino’s, gave new meaning to the phrase ‘talking about Uganda’ when discovered in flagrante with an African lawyer,  and later rode the ‘condom train’ to flout Ireland’s contraception laws.

Some of these stories surface in her memoir, Something of Myself and Others; others she draws a veil over, with a Catholic reticence of which her mother would doubtless have approved. Or perhaps she simply cannot remember them all. ‘Like much of my misspent youth I have no recollection whatsoever of where we went or what we did,’ she says at one point.

When it comes to dissecting her friends and colleagues, however, she is pin-sharp, her observations direct and sometimes merciless. This is part autobiography, part homespun philosophy, in which by far the most moving chapter is her account of looking after her stricken husband, Dick West, whom she cannot abandon, but whose illness imprisons her. She ponders whether he would have been better cared for in a nursing home, but concludes, bleakly: ‘The responsibility is still mine, and will be for what remains of my life.’

Though short of the boisterous wit for which she was once famous, this is an honest account of a life lived to the hilt.

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