This much I know: Margaret E Ward, Journalist and Broadcaster

I’m an introvert, socialised to become an extrovert.

Growing up, I was athletic, talkative and opinionated. For years, I was this tiny only-child. I had to learn how to fight my own battles, how to defend myself, how to have a sharp tongue, how to run fast and be better. When my brother was born, it was the happiest day of my life.

I’m a survivor and a coper. I had it really tough, really young. My mother died from lung cancer when I was 17. My parents had just divorced. I’d been minding my mother and eight-year-old brother, so I had to be an adult from a very young age.

I believe we are all here for a reason. We are born unique and our mission is to find out what that reason is. It’s almost like a present — to find out more and more about who we are and then to give that uniqueness back to society.

I want to help to empower women, to teach them that they all have a public voice.

People have called me formidable. I’d just say I’m tough, but fair.

My worst fault is that I’m not very forgiving. When people cross me, I will be polite to them, but I don’t keep people in my life once they have hurt me badly.

The best advice I ever got was from my grandmother: life is too short to spend it with jerks.

I’m a New Yorker, but have lived in Dublin since 1995. I came over to research a book and ended up working as a business journalist. I had a business column in the Irish Times. I also worked at the Sunday Times, as money editor, and at Newstalk as a business presenter.

I met my husband in his mother’s back garden, after Mass. My parents were both Irish, my dad from Clontarf, the son of a Garda superintendent, and my mum from rural Carlow. My father’s sister had remained in Clontarf, and when she died, after I’d moved here, her neighbour, Betty Ryan, had everyone around to her house after a Mass. This guy walked into her back garden, and that was more or less it. He was her son. Ten days later, he fabricated an excuse to say he was passing through Maynooth, asking if he could see me again. I had no interest in settling down and having kids — I was going to be a war correspondent back then — but today we’re a tight family with an 11-year-old girl and a nine-year-old boy.

My print work led to me being invited onto David McWilliams’ television show. I was always very comfortable speaking up for myself, but that first day I went in very prepared, but not having slept a wink. I was absolutely terrified. But then I figured out all I had to do was work out three main points to say in the five minutes I would be given... It got me noticing how badly represented women are on air, as contributors and experts.

So I founded Women on Air, a not-for-profit networking and seminar group to address the lack of female voices on the airwaves and to train women in public speaking and media skills. I founded Clear Ink in 2006.

I’m not religious, but I am spiritual. I think organised religions can be damaging for women and children. I’m not sure about a life after death.

I go to the gym two or three times a week. I walk and, when I can, I ski. But that’s expensive when you live in Ireland.

I am very organised — my husband will laugh when he reads this — I mean, mentally. At work, I’m all about outlines and structures, about logical and critical thinking. But our family home is very relaxed. I just throw off my shoes and flop down on the sofa, because, growing up, our home was like living in a museum.

My vision of hell would be walking into a room with 100 crying babies and being asked to mind them all.

I’m happiest when I’m in control, writing something.

Margaret E Ward is an entrepreneur and journalist. See more about Women on Air, the not-for-profit networking group for female experts and media programme-makers, which she founded.


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