Low in Stock

The Third Daughter

A Retrospective

By: Eileen O’Mara Walsh

Publication Date: 16th May 2015

(1 customer review)


The Third Daughter begins in 1940s Limerick, where the O’Mara family were merchant princes of the city. The story follows the family fortunes from middle-class comfort to genteel poverty as they moved to Dublin and became part of its literary and theatrical circles in the 1950s and 60s when her father Power O’Mara managed the avant-garde Globe Theatre Company. Eileen’s mother, Joan Follwell, was a glamorous English socialist, becoming a lover of philosopher Bertrand Russell in the 1920s (twenty of his letters are in the Appendix), and leaving London with her Irish husband during the Blitz in 1940.

Eileen O’Mara Walsh recalls influences and people of her youth, from Patrick Kavanagh to Michael Mac Liammoir, Noel Browne to Conor Cruise O’Brien.

Eileen migrated to London in 1959 and in 1960 moved to Paris, working for an international Catholic women’s organisation. This brought her to Rome and to an audience with Pope John XXIII. Back in Dublin in 1962, in a bohemian milieu of painters and writers such as Sean O’Sullivan, Camille Souter, Louis Marcus, Aidan Higgins, John Jordan and others, Eileen met Mayo artist Owen Walsh and returned to Paris with him in 1967 to work for the newly established Irish Tourist Board, going on to win the Club Med franchise for a burgeoning Irish market.

In 1975 Eileen and Owen’s son Eoghan was born. Eileen separated from Owen two years later and in 1978 began the O’Mara Travel Company, becoming one of Dublin’s most accomplished businesswomen of the 80s and early 90s. She was the founding President of the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation, a director of Aer Lingus, and was the first woman in Ireland to be appointed Chair of an Irish commercial semi-state company in Great Southern Hotels. Later she became Chair of Enterprise Ireland precursor Forbairt and Opera Ireland, was a founding member of Dublinia, and through her business career encountered figures like Desmond O’Malley, Charles Haughey, and Bertie Ahern. The memoir concludes in 1996 with the 21st birthday of her son, Eoghan.

An Epilogue in 2002 gives a moving account of Owen Walsh’s illness and death from cancer in Mayo, where the couple find time together again.

The Third Daughter is a remarkable memoir by a woman who helped give shape to contemporary Ireland, formulate tourism policy, and who bore significant witness to the artistic Baggotonian Dublin of the 1960s and beyond.

‘The Third Daughter is fascinating both as a social history and as a portrait of a talented woman with a generous soul.’ Susan McKay, The Irish Times


Also available as an ebook

1 review for The Third Daughter

  1. Lilliput Press

    “This book is a great read. I have just read it for the second time and enjoyed it even more than my first read of it some time ago. The author writes extraordinary well. It is an account of Eileen O’Mara Walsh’s family who moved from Limerick to Dublin from where The O’Maras were a Well known business family and Eileen’s grandfather was the Opera singer Joseph O’Mara. Her parents became part of the literary and artistic scene in Dublin and Eileen met many of the famous writers and artists of Dublin in the late 50’s and 1960’s. Her experiences of working in Paris and at USITravel was useful when she went on to set up her own Travel Agency O’Mara travel. Eileen became a most successful business woman becoming Chair of Great Southern Hotels and a number of state and cultural organisations. She paints a most interesting account of the career of a highly successful business women in the 1970s and 1980s. Her account of her life with the distinguished Irish artist Owen Walsh also makes for interesting reading. I highly recommend this book.” BM DORAN

Add a review

Weight 0.5 kg
Dimensions 234 × 256 mm
Publication Date

16th May 2015


Paperback, 288pp