Question: Where are you from and how has that shaped you?
Mary Robinson: Well I grew up in the west of Ireland, which at the time was one of the poorest parts. My father and mother were both doctors, and I went out a lot with my father on his calls to very poor homes. I think that had a big influence on me. I saw poverty, and I saw how he as a doctor tried to really talk to people, listen to them, and be on their wavelength. I was wedged between four brothers, which is why I had this early interest in human rights. And I was influenced by my grandfather who was a lawyer who had to retire early because of ill health. And he didn’t know quite how to talk to a child of 10, 11, 12, so he treated me as an adult and talked about law and justice. And that had a big impact. I was aware of the different strands of history because some of my uncles had served on the British colonial service. And my father’s oldest brother was knighted by the Queen when I was quite young. My grandmother went over for that and there was quite a bit of excitement. But on the other side, I also knew about the rebel side that had fought for freedom. And in the school that I was in, it was a school which very much encouraged a sort of passionate sense of Irish history.
Recorded on: Jul 25 2007