With two sons, two dogs, and a husband who's a ‘dab hand' at cooking, West Cork's first female TD is balancing a busy homelife with her weekly trips to Dáil Éireann, she tells Kieran O'Mahony
With two sons, two dogs, and a husband who’s a ‘dab hand’ at cooking, West Cork’s first female TD is balancing a busy homelife with her weekly trips to Dáil Éireann, she tells Kieran O’Mahony
YOU can’t go wrong with a sense of humour. And you can see that TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony and husband Paddy have it in abundance. As Margaret points out, they’re both blessed with it and they laugh a lot, which helps with a such a busy household.
Married 24 years this month, you could say they were destined to meet each other, as Paddy’s father used to deliver milk to Margaret’s home in her younger days. However, it wasn’t until a night out in Kitty Crowley’s, the once legendary bar down on Oliver Plunkett Street in Bandon, that Paddy and Margaret first got together.
This was followed by a trip across the road to Cleo’s nightclub, as it was known back then.
‘I suppose we knew each other all our lives, as Paddy is from Innishannon and I’m from Bandon, but it was in Kitty’s back in 1987 that it all came together and we got married six years after that,’ said Margaret.
‘Paddy would always have known that this was my ambition and the minute he walked into our home, he would have known it was an extremely political one,’ says the Cork West Fianna Fáil TD.
The couple now have two boys, John (17) and Philip (14) attending the nearby Hamilton High School, and their two dogs, Noble and Joey, who weren’t shy in stepping in for the family photograph.
Referring to her entry into big-time politics, Margaret explained the timing. ‘I suppose I waited until the two boys were old enough to half cope for themselves and it was always my dream to take the big step on the big stage then.’
Margaret’s entry into local politics was when she was elected to the former Bandon Town Council in 2004, while working in the town’s Post Office.
‘I job-shared the minute that John arrived and then I trained as a special needs assistant, while still working in the Post Office. Once I had the training done, I started working in that area, as the hours suited me more. And when I got elected to Cork County Council in 2014, I gave it all up, because I had the bigger picture in mind and wanted to give it my all.’
While Margaret is away in Dublin two days a week, Paddy feels that he and the two boys cope well enough and especially when school is on, as there’s more of a regular routine. ‘The lads are older too, which helps, and I suppose we cope good enough really and sure we have no choice anyway!’ joked Paddy.
Margaret usually heads to Dublin early on a Tuesday morning and is back in Bandon on Thursday evening. She stays in the same hotel as some of her fellow TDs so there is a bit of comraderie.
‘I find it nearly harder for me to be away, than if [Paddy and the boys] were away, and while I’m very busy during the day, I do find it lonely in the hotel,’ she said. ‘I even miss the basics of loading the dishwasher and the overall routine at home. But I must say Paddy and the two boys are totally behind me, which makes it easier. It’s a matter of routine and just being organised really.’
When not in Dublin, Margaret visits her offices in both Skibbereen and Bantry on Fridays, and on Saturdays she’s in her constituency clinics and back in her own office in Bandon on Mondays.
‘I took a week off this summer and we went to Spain on holidays, so it was lovely to be together 24/7. It’s busier in one sense, when the Dáil is in recess, but it’s also nice to be home every night.’
When it comes to the cooking, Paddy is a dab hand at it and Margaret added that she is blessed that he is an extremely easy-going person and that does help.
‘Being at home for me is heaven really, so we wouldn’t go out that much. Friday night at home with a takeaway is my idea of heaven!’
‘We’d go for the odd drink alright,’ Paddy added.
‘Margaret has great energy and drive and that’s the biggest thing you need, as it’s a huge commitment. I’d say people don’t realise that you must be at this or that and it’s a huge county,’ he pointed out.
‘You couldn’t do it without someone good at home,’ Margaret said. ‘It would be impossible, but I suppose a lot of the emphasis is on the male TDs. In our case it’s the husband who’s at home, but it’s working very well for us.’
As for John and Philip, they’re happy to get stuck into the work. The previous evening they had been helping their mum do leaflet drops around Dunmanway.
‘They have been great, and even during my election campaign they were doing the envelopes,’ Margaret added.
Next on the schedule after our interview? A meeting in Skibbereen about the county boundary. Never a dull moment indeed.
AT A GLANCE
Favourite meal: A cheeseboard.
Tea or Coffee: Both.
Tipple: Gin &Tonic – with Cork Dry Gin, of course!
Favourite Holiday Destination: Staycations, as Noble and Joey have to come too!
Movie: Taken 1, 2 & 3!
Book: Any chick-lit, a light escape and also political biographies.
To get away from it all: Walking anywhere with the dogs.
Wingmen (or women) in politics: Denis O’Donovan, Bobby Aylward and Niamh Smith.