Mary Kenny

Humiliating the IRA was a fatal mistake

It was said that Reginald Maudling, as home secretary, once boarded a plane in Belfast and immediately requested a stiff drink, muttering: ‘Get me out of this awful bloody country!’ This does not appear in Ian Cobain’s compelling, interwoven narrative about a killing in Lisburn, near Belfast, in April 1978, but it emblemised some of

The cult of Patrick

St Patrick’s Day, on 17 March, is now regarded as a prime opportunity for Irish politicians to travel abroad on a mission for ‘brand Ireland’. They fly off overseas, armed with the symbol of the shamrock, alerting their hosts to the shiny new liberal Ireland which is such a fabulous investment opportunity — and don’t

Dublin’s Jewish museum

I love small museums, and the Irish Jewish Museum in Dublin is a little gem, located in the neighbourhood once known as ‘Little Jerusalem’, a centre of Jewish life around the South Circular Road. The museum itself is a converted terraced house at 3 Walworth Road, within walking distance of the streets so evocative of

The wonders of Wexford

I might have had chance to visit the famed Wexford Opera Festival when I was walking out with Bernard Levin — who was mad about the annual October event — but he never took me along, on account of calling me a ‘vile fidget’ during opera performances. Still, Wexford is a grand place to visit

Wild, wild times

There are, I believe, only two jokes in Diarmaid Ferriter’s latest voluminous tome: one, citing Liam Cosgrave, sometime Taoiseach, considered a rather dull character, who apparently said that ‘the Jews and the Muslims should settle their differences in a Christian manner’ (which is almost as insightful as the Tyrone newspaper which once carried the headline:

Sweetness and light

Yes, shamefully, I did immediately look myself up in the index, since I had known Mary Robinson (née Bourke) when we were both young feminists in Dublin in 1970. Indeed, she sat in my Dublin flat sharing ‘conscious-raising’ sessions, and I published one of the first political interviews with her — which has been cited


You could not mistake the atmosphere in Dublin this week: the state visit of the Queen and Prince Philip has had the full panoply of a historic occasion. It was obvious that the Irish state was wholeheartedly committed to its success, with the most formal protocols in place. Both David Cameron and William Hague have

In defence of Mary Whitehouse

The first time I interviewed Mary Whitehouse was for the Evening Standard in 1965. She seemed to me a narrow-minded schoolmarm, and after our encounter I wrote a teenagerish attack on her. I was thrilled by the satire boom that had been launched by That Was The Week That Was, and I loved other shows

Was the Abdication necessary?

At least one very startling claim emerges in this study: according to her own account, Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, never consummated her first two marriages. Indeed, she never allowed any man (before the Duke of Windsor, presumably) to touch her ‘below the Mason-Dixon line’. If this is true, it makes a nonsense of the Abdication,

Too close for comfort

It was the late Lord Deedes who once succinctly explained to me what it was like to live through the second world war. I had said to him, ‘Those Battle of Britain boys were so brave’.And he had replied, almost impatiently, ‘No, it wasn’t bravery we felt. It was a strange, deep, primitive compulsion that

Diary – 11 August 2006

Edinburgh ‘Oh, God, you couldn’t buy that publicity!’ people exclaimed as Mel Smith appeared on the front page of a clutch of newspapers, on radio and TV and finally on the world news channels. Mel is Winston Churchill in my play Allegiance (which depicts the night that Churchill and Michael Collins got drunk together in

Diary – 22 November 2003

Miranda Sawyer’s Channel 4 programme pleading for the abolition of the age of consent, Sex Before 16: Why the Law is Failing, featured the following adults: the editor of a sexually frank magazine for young girls, Bliss; a QC as a legal expert; a child protection expert; an MP; three experts in ‘teenage sexuality’; a

Sex and the City means family values

The sexually explicit scenes in Sex and the City – now into its last series on Channel 4 – make me feel like Maurice Chevalier: I’m so glad that I’m not young any more. It is not that I feel, as my husband Richard West does, that it is all quite ‘filthy’ and ‘disgusting’ (he