Becoming the Lady Mayoress of Cork 2023-2024

On 23 June 2023 I became the Lady Mayoress of Cork. I accessed this position through the nomination of my partner, Kieran McCarthy, to the Lord Mayoralty of the second city of Ireland.

The role, functions and responsibilities of a Lord Mayor are clear. But what about those of a Lady Mayoress?

How to be a relevant Lady Mayoress is not written in books. And even if it were, the writtings would probably not be aligned with our times. Especially when you already have a full-time job…

Being a Lady Mayoress scared me, as I felt that being a female partner would be a trap:

  • I did not want to be a dolly bird next to the officially recognised and valued Lord Mayor.
  • I did not want to be there just because I am the partner of the Lord Mayor.
  • I did not want to be the mere family support and anchor of the Lord Mayor, waiting and congratulating at home.
  • I did not want to be the “faire-valoir” of social events.

Don’t get me wrong:

  • I will be standing next the Lord Mayor with my utmost energy and presence when in representation.
  • I am here BECAUSE I am the partner of the Lord Mayor.
  • I will be accompanying and supporting the Lord Mayor the best a partner can do.
  • I will take part in events I am due to attend.

Yet, as a common agreement, Kieran and I decided that we would be a joint LM team: Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress. As such, I see my role, functions and responsibilities to be:

  • Bringing my knowledge and expertise of working with a variety of municipalities and public administrations throughout Europe to the benefits of the City of Cork: #checkitoutCork.
  • Sharing the learnings and experiences of Cork to a wider audience throughout Europe: #proudofCork.
  • Being a critical friend to the Lord Mayor, especially in my fields of expertise: #sustainablefood, #sustainableconsumption, #urbanagriculture, #foodwaste, #circulareconomy, #societaltransition, #climateaction, #energytransition, #socialinnovation, #sustainableurbanplanning, #grassrootsinitiatives, #temporaryuse, #integratedgovernance, #participation, #cocreation, #EUfunds, #EUprogrammes, #admincapacitybuilding
  • Playing my role of citizen, seeking to push for the most relevant local policies.

What am I expecting to get from this?

  • A more humble but also critical look at local politics.
  • A fierce on-going questionning on local democracy.
  • A frustrating at the same time as enriching journey.
  • A quest for pragmatic urban solutions.
  • A unique life experience.

I look forward to this year of a reflexive and active journey, and hope to be up to the task.