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Eileen Delaney was born in Dublin in 1932. She was educated at St. Kevin's School, the National College of Art, Grafton Academy of Dress Designing and the Abbey Theatre School of Acting. She became involved in politics in 1974 when she was first elected to Dublin City Council. In 1976 she unsuccessfully contested the by-election in Dublin South-West caused by the death of her 47-year-old husband Noel Lemass, Jnr, son of former Taoiseach Seán Lemass and brother-in-law of future Taoiseach Charles Haughey.
She was first elected to Dáil Éireann for Dublin Ballyfermot at the 1977 general election. Lemass was elected again at the 1981 general election, this time for Dublin West, but lost her Dáil seat in February 1982.
She won re-election in that year's second general election in November 1982. Two years later in 1984 she was elected to the European Parliament. She retired from domestic politics at the 1987 election and from European politics in 1989 when she lost her European seat.
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