A mother of three, lawyer, religious thinker and immensely popular former President of Ireland from 1997 until 2011. She was the first President to come from Northern Ireland. Born in Belfast in 1951, the eldest of nine children she grew up in Ardoyne, a sectarian flashpoint area of the city and experienced first-hand the violence of The Troubles. The theme of her presidency was Building Bridges and her work for peace and reconciliation culminated in the historic state visit to Ireland by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II in May 2011. A barrister and journalist by training she was Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at Trinity College Dublin, Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies and first female pro-Vice Chancellor at the Queen's University of Belfast. She also worked as a journalist in Irish radio and television. She was a non-executive director of Channel 4 television, the Royal Group of Hospitals Trust, Northern Ireland Electricity and BBC Northern Ireland. For many years prior to her election as President of Ireland she was involved in social justice campaigning. She was a co-founder of Belfast Women's Aid, the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform, the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas and Co Chair of the Working Party on Sectarianism set up by the Irish Council of Churches and the Catholic Church. She is the author of "Reconciled being: Love in chaos"(1997), Building Bridges (2011), Collegiality in the Code of Canon Law (2014), Children’s rights and Obligations in Canon Law (2019), Here’s the Story: A Memoir (2020). She has a Licentiate and Doctorate in Latin Catholic Church Canon Law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome where she studied from 2012 to 2018. Her current area of research is children's rights in Canon Law and intellectual rights and freedoms in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). Mary is married to Martin since 1976. They have three adult children and two grandsons. Mary is currently Chancellor of the University of Dublin, Trinity College, chair of the Ansari Institute at The University of Notre Dame, Indiana, Professor of Children, Law and Religion at the University of Glasgow and a Canon of Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin.