Over the weekend, all of us who knew Mary Mooney heard of her death with a combination of great sadness and gratitude. She was the widow of John Mooney, the founder and owner of the Irish Farmers Journal.
He had hired Paddy O’Keeffe to run it and when it was firmly established he donated it, with no personal benefit, to a trust for the benefit of Irish farmers.
That ownership model still operates.
Mary was steeped in farming. Her family, the Taylors, were well known farmers in north county Dublin.
Mary studied science in UCD, graduating in 1951. Shortly after graduating, she met and married John Mooney who had bought a farm – Killegland – on the outskirts of Ashbourne in Co Meath.
He was already involved with the Irish Farmers Journal, having bought it out of bankruptcy in 1951. It had been started by Macra na Feirme, but the premature death of its young editor, Stephen Cullinane, was a fatal blow to the paper.
Both John and Mary had been deeply involved in the young Macra na Feirme with John becoming national president.
Mary was an active secretary of the Swords branch of Macra na Feirme in the early 1950s and she organised a number of events, including debates, dances and a ploughing match.
She was also a member of the Ladies Committee of Gorta for a number of years in the 1960s and 1970s.
The early days of the Irish Farmers Journal were not easy commercially. John had ploughed in a significant amount of cash and when Mary came in for lunch to the Irish Farm Centre a few years ago, she recalled the original editorial offices operating from the basement of the Pepper Canister church in Mount Street Crescent in Dublin, while members of Macra distributed the paper on a semi-voluntary basis across the country.
John and Mary had seven children and together they agreed that when the Irish Farmers Journal was fully established and profitable, it should continue to operate in perpetuity for the benefit of Irish farmers, despite an attractive offer from Lord Thompson, the then owner of the London Times.
Mary was hugely supportive of John’s farming and involvement in the Irish Farmers Journal, where he continued to be chairman until ill health forced him to relinquish the chair but he continued on the board for the rest of his life until his death in 2000.
Mary continued to live at Killegland, in constant contact with her family and grandchildren until just recently when she went into a local nursing home.
We offer our deepest sympathy to her children, grandchildren and extended family. MD