Mary Foley (nee Schwer) was a well known and respected figure and was something of a trail blazer as a female writer in the car writing industry.
She came from a family well established in the Kilcullen/Brannockstown area. She was involved in the Kilcullen Drama Group during the 1960s, and her interest in things automotive also manifested itself when when she competed in Kart Racing through the Flower Power years.
She married motor racing and rally enthusiast Brian Foley from Carlow in 1969 and in the same year they established their motoring magazine ‘Auto Ireland’. Reflecting both of them, it provided wide coverage of the then busy and growing Irish motorsport scene. Initially they lived in Carlow, where Mary also operated a very successful Driving School. Brian and Mary later moved to Dublin and throughout their business years they published other titles including ‘Autowoman’ along with Buyers’ Guides, Formula One Guides, and race and rally programmes. Mary wrote under the pen name Mary Schwer-Foley.
Brian Byrne, Chairman, Irish Motor Writers Association penned the following tribute to her:
“She was the first and only woman to date to hold the office of Chairperson of the Irish Motoring Writers Association, and spoke with great clarity and humour at many motoring events. In the late 80s and early 90s she was deeply involved in the running of the Irish Motorsport shows in Dublin.
“Mary was very much a people person, full of life, laughter and kindness. She was also a devoted wife, mother and grandmother. She loved motorsports, GAA, rugby and horse racing. She also loved travel, music, fine dining and cooking, and entertaining. On such latter occasions she was always good for a song, a parody, or an Elvis impersonation.
“Mary was a fashionista and always believed in looking her best. Ever vibrant, any room she entered immediately became a brighter and more lively place.
“Her spirit and courage in the face of serious health problems were remarkable. A number of years ago, thanks in no small part to an indomitable spirit, she defeated very serious illness. Subsequently she provided encouragement and support to many other women in the same situation.
“When she was told of a new illness a year ago she met it head on with the same spirit. But this time, despite her own sheer force of will and the best efforts her doctors, she passed away peacefully in the loving company of her family early on Sunday morning, 4 March 2012.
“For those of us who were privileged to know her, especially in the round of motoring related events, a light has gone out, an engine of fun and vitality has been switched off. For her family, especially Brian for whom she was a right hand, a rock of support, the love of his life, Mary’s passing is a loss of much greater magnitude, inevitable but no easier to bear for that.
“We in the Irish Motoring Writers Association have had Mary much in our thoughts over the last year. Even though she has now left us, she will never be far from our minds and conversations on future occasions when we gather in the course of our work,” Mr Byrne wrote.