Nell McCafferty

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Nell McCafferty
Nell McCafferty.jpg
Born (1944-03-28) 28 March 1944 (age 72)
Derry, Northern Ireland
Occupation Journalist, writer, playwright
Nationality Irish

Nell McCafferty (born 28 March 1944) is an Irish journalist, playwright, civil rights campaigner and feminist. In her journalistic work she has written for The Irish Press, The Irish Times, Sunday Tribune, Hot Press and The Village Voice.

Early life[edit]

McCafferty was born in Derry, Northern Ireland, to Hugh and Lily McCafferty, and spent her early years in the Bogside area of Derry. She was admitted to Queen's University Belfast (QUB), where she took a degree in Arts. After a brief spell as a substitute English teacher in Northern Ireland and a stint on an Israeli kibbutz, she took up a post with The Irish Times.


She contributed the piece "Coping with the womb and the border" to the 1984 anthology Sisterhood Is Global: The International Women's Movement Anthology, edited by Robin Morgan.[1]

In 1990, McCafferty won a Jacob's Award for her reports on the 1990 World Cup for RTÉ Radio 1's The Pat Kenny Show. McCafferty lives in Ranelagh, an area of Dublin. McCafferty published her autobiography, Nell, in 2004. In it, she explores her upbringing in Derry, her relationship with her parents, her fears about being gay,[2] the joy of finding a domestic haven with the love of her life, the Irish writer Nuala O'Faolain, and the pain of losing it.

In 2009, after the publication of the Murphy Report into the abuse of children in the Dublin archdiocese, McCafferty confronted Archbishop Diarmuid Martin asking him why the Catholic Church had not, as a "gesture of redemption", relinquished titles such as "Your Eminence" and "Your Grace."[citation needed]

Nell caused a controversy in 2010 with a radio declaration [3] that the then Minister for Health Mary Harney was an alcoholic. This allegation led to a court case in which Mary Harney was awarded €450,000 the following year. [4]

She has very rarely featured on radio or television in Ireland as a commentator since, despite being ever present in those media from 1990 onwards, but she has been featured on a number of recorded shows since.[5]

The Irish Times wrote that "Nell's distinctive voice, both written and spoken, has a powerful and provocative place in Irish society."[6]

Personal life[edit]

McCafferty was in a fifteen-year relationship with the late journalist Nuala O'Faolain.[5]



  1. ^ "Table of Contents: Sisterhood is global :". Retrieved 2015-10-15. 
  2. ^ Chrisafis, Angelique (22 November 2004), "Just call me Nell", The Guardian, retrieved 2007-11-30 
  3. ^ "Bloody Nell ! ....Hell Breaks loose on Tom Dunne!". Radiowaves Forum. Radiowaves. 11 March 2010. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  4. ^ Black, Fergus. "Harney receives €450,000 over radio 'alcoholic' slur". Irish Independent. Retrieved 11 December 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Russell, Chrissie (24 March 2012). "Nell: Nuala didn't ban me from her deathbed". Irish Independent. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  6. ^ "Nell McCafferty". Scríobh Literary Festival, 2005. Retrieved on 14 April 2008.