I was born on 27th May 1965 and was christened Margaret Ruth Johnston in the local Catholic Church, but was always called Ruth. I was brought up in Blackrock, a fishing village and seaside resort near Dundalk in County Louth, Ireland. My father was a fisherman by trade, deep-sea fishing for salmon during the summer months and designing and building fishing boats most winters. I suppose by today’s standards we would be considered to be a large family, there were eleven children alltogether and so surprisingly, along with the big job of rearing us, mum found time to run for local election, and be on the board of fisheries.
From what I remember, by the time I came along, there was little need for a lot of discipline as we were fairly good children and a sharp word from dad usually kept us in check. As with a lot of people at the time, there was little to go around, but because most people were in the same boat it didn’t seem to matter much. Being as I was at the time, quiet and a bit shy, I found my teenage years to be excruciatingly turbulent and painful. The main reason for it being so was, I have no doubt, rampant hormones, but also, there were problems at home because mum had a disease called Multiple Sclerosis that left her very disabled and unable to walk. My father didn't cope with it very well at all and spent a few years having affairs which eventually ended in him leaving the family home. So at seventeen I couldn't wait to move away and I left home and went to live with one of my sisters in Dublin.