Mary Manning

Posted by Sue Leonard on Sunday 21st January 2018

A lifelong reader, Mary started with Enid Blyton, progressing to Jane Austen.  After school, she took an ANCO – (now FAS,) course in office work, then spent 10 months working in an office in Jordan Street. She went from there to Dunnes Stores.

In 1984, obeying a union directive, Mary refused to register the sale of South African grapefruit, and was suspended. Agreeing that she’d been right to stand up to apartheid, nine co-workers walked out in support, and the dispute escalated into a mass movement.

“I hadn’t been political, but the suspension pushed me into public speaking.”

Unable to secure another job, in 1988, Mary emigrated to Australia staying there for five years, working in offices.

“I came back to Ireland in 1993, and took time off work to look after my two daughters, born in 1994 and 1996.”  Then she went back into office work.

Who is Mary Manning

Date of birth: July 1963, in Kilmainham, Dublin.

Education:  Mater Day in Kilmainham, 5th year, Holy Faith School.

Home: Dublin.

Family: Two daughters, Niamh 23, and Siobhan, who has special needs, 21.

The Day Job: An office job dealing with payroll.

In Another Life: “I’d love to have done acting. When I was younger, I was always in the school plays.”

Favourite Writers: “James Patterson, and I love non-fiction. I particularly enjoyed the memoirs of Nelson Mandela’s and Bruce Springsteen.”

Second Book: “I’d like to think I could write another.”

Top Tip: “Concentrate on one section at a time. A whole book seems too daunting.”

Twitter: @strikingbackmm1

The Debut: Striking back. (With Sinead O’Brien.) The Collins Press: €15.00 Kindle €11.03.

This excellent account of the eighties strike, when both the government and the Catholic Church refused to support the women in their stand, shows just how reactionary, and racist Ireland was back then. The dispute gained international recognition, praise from Bishop Desmond Tutu, and an invitation to South Africa to see the effect of apartheid.

The book also details Mary’s mother’s heart-breaking start in life. 

“I’m proud that I took a stand, but it took people a long time to see that I hadn’t done a bad thing.”  

The Verdict: A shocking, revealing account of a woman’s determination to do the right thing.  

Published in The Irish Examiner on 13th January, 2018

© Sue Leonard. 2018

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