Atlantic Books acquires biography of Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald

31st May 2022

Atlantic Books has acquired an ‘essential and unmissable’ biography of Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald by journalist and politician Shane Ross. Clare Drysdale, group associate publisher of Atlantic Books, bought World rights (including audio and translation) from Jonathan Williams Literary Agency. Mary Lou McDonald: A Republican Riddle will be published in flapped trade paperback and eBook formats on October 6th 2022.

Mary Lou McDonald is the bookies’ favourite to be Ireland’s next Taoiseach. She would be the first woman to reach the office, and the first Sinn Féin leader ever to enter government in the Republic of Ireland. But how did a quintessentially bourgeois woman end up as the leader of a political party with such a recent terrorist past? This biography explores the influences on Mary Lou’s early life and fully covers her unexpected, but hitherto unexplained,  political choices. It examines her attitudes to Gerry Adams, to Sinn Féin violence and whether she is a true believer or another political opportunist. It reveals her relationship with the politicians – many emerging from the shadows – who will be part of her government if she achieves her ambition.

Shane Ross’s scrupulously fair and balanced biography illuminates McDonald’s political awakening, her relationship with the hard men of the IRA, and the evolution and future of Sinn Féin.

Shane Ross has been a stockbroker, a journalist, a politician and an author. He was Business Editor of the Sunday Independent for over sixteen years, and a member of the Seanad for 29 years before taking a Dáil seat in 2011. In 2016, he became Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, serving in the Irish government for over four years.

Shane Ross says:

‘Mary Lou McDonald, a political mystery, is an unlikely apologist for a party that was for so long the political wing of IRA terrorists. Her middle-class upbringing and privileged southern Irish background contrast sharply with her chosen political creed. I worked alongside Mary Lou in the Dail for many years. She was both brilliant and baffling, often radical and sometimes reckless, but she never took her eye off the main prize: the leadership of Sinn Féin and the ultimate goal of a united Ireland.’

Clare Drysdale, group associate publisher of Atlantic Books, says:

‘For a politician to write a biography of another politician is unusual, and for the result to be neither hagiography nor hatchet job is remarkable. Shane Ross was in the room as a fellow parliamentarian for many of the moments that made Mary Lou McDonald’s name – his unrivalled access, and Sinn Fein’s eye-catching success in Northern Ireland’s recent Assembly elections, makes this biography essential and unmissable reading.’