23 May 2011
|Constituency||Nominated by the Taoiseach|
5 September 1952 |
Castlebar, Mayo, Ireland
From Foxford, County Mayo, she is the daughter of Maire Cranny, a speech and drama teacher in south County Dublin. O'Donnell studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London where she learned her trade in professional acting and theatre directing. She became head of drama at Carysfort teacher training college. She was also involved in the setting up of The Helix theatre on the DCU campus. She has one adult son, who studies medicine.
A lecturer in communications at Dublin City University (DCU), O'Donnell first rose to prominence as a reporter on RTÉ Radio 1's Today with Pat Kenny in the summer of 2010, at which point listeners noted her taste for drama, as well as a speedy and sensational delivery. However, according to a friend who spoke to The Irish Times: ""It's one of those 'overnight success stories' that was actually years in the making. She trained in radio production and presentation with the BBC and presented programmes for BBC Radio 4."" A colleague told the same publication: "It's extraordinary the amount of people she knows and counts among her friends. Gay Byrne, Charlie McCreevy, many Fine Gael TDs – she's genuinely close to many people. I accompanied her on a trip to America at one stage and she even had a network there."
In May 2011, Taoiseach Enda Kenny nominated O'Donnell to the 24th Seanad. He again nominated her to the 25th Seanad in May 2016. "With the hand of Michael McDowell clearly at work behind the scenes", she ousted David Norris from his role as leader of the Seanad's independent group on 29 June 2016 however she is no longer a member of the Technical Group.
More recently, in accompaniment to her work with RTÉ and presence in the Seanad, she has taken to frequently appearing as a panellist on TV3's Tonight with Vincent Browne, often featuring in the section of the programme that reviews the following morning's newspapers. She is noted for her persistent and firm defence of Enda Kenny.
- "Ms. Marie Louise O'Donnell". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
- Holden, Louise (21 September 2010). "The media's new darling". The Irish Times.
- Edwards, Elaine (20 May 2011). "McAleese appointed to Seanad". The Irish Times.
- "Marie-Louise O'Donnell". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
- Bardon, Sarah (27 May 2016). "FF leader selects three of Taoiseach's 11 Seanad appointees". The Irish Times.
- Lord, Miriam (29 June 2016). "Norris exit prompts wave of indifference: Senator loses out to Marie-Louise O'Donnell as leader of Seanad Independent group". The Irish Times.
- "Bold Move". 23 February 2016.