“I have had a varied life. Born in a Dublin tenement and raised in a Council house, I never thought that I would one day be Lord Mayor of Bristol – I feel a little like Dick Whittington! I am more than proud to hold this position and hope that I can do it justice during the year of my tenure.
As I only came to live in Bristol in 2013, I don’t know the city as well as I want to. So, I am especially looking forward to taking full advantage of all opportunities that come my way as Lord Mayor; I want to get out and meet Bristolians from every corner of the city and every walk of life.
I graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 1980, but, as was so often the case, there were no job opportunities, so I took the emigrants’ boat, becoming part of the Irish diaspora. After a few interesting jobs in my 20s, I trained to be a secondary school teacher in the 1990s and worked for almost 20 years in schools in Lincoln, where my husband Colm and I raised two children.
Our move to Bristol was a bit unusual. We wanted to move to a larger city once the children finished their education. However, halfway through, we came to Bristol for a weekend – never having been here and not knowing anybody – and immediately fell in love with the its vibrancy and charm, and with its people. Decision made and no regrets!
I have been a Green Councillor for Clifton since 2016 and have been privileged to get to know so many of the residents here and become part of the community. However, I know that Clifton can be a bit of a bubble, and I want to use my time as Lord Mayor to meet people and make connections across all areas of Bristol and better understand our fantastic city.
During my year as Lord Mayor, I would particularly like to focus on promoting citizenship and democracy education in schools and in the wider environment. We are a representative democracy, so, as one of the elected representatives, and ‘first citizen’, I hope to find opportunities to engage citizens in this topic. However, this does not put limits on my actions, and I hope to receive invitations from any organisation who would like to meet Bristol’s Lord Mayor.”
Paula O’Rourke, Lord Mayor of Bristol