Mary Mulvihill was born in 1959, grew up in Dublin, and studied genetics at Trinity College Dublin, graduating in 1981. She went on to a Masters in Statistics, also in Trinity College Dublin, completing in 1982.
Up to 1987 she worked as a research officer with the agricultural advisory and research agency, An Foras Talúntais (later Teagasc). In 1987-88 she completed the Graduate Diploma in Journalism at National Institute for Higher Education Dublin (later Dublin City University) and switched career to science writing and broadcasting.
Mary was a founding member in 1990 of WITS – Women in Technology and Science, the advocacy and networking group which brings together women from all sectors of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. She also served a term as chairperson of WITS.
Mary was an active member of the Irish Science and Technology Journalists’ Association and of the National Union of Journalists. She also actively supported the efforts of associations, institutions and companies to make Ireland’s technological, scientific and industrial heritage accessible to as wide a public as possible.
In the 1990s she co-edited Technology Ireland, for which she also wrote extensively. From the early 1990s she was contributing science stories frequently to the Irish Times, and began presenting science-based programmes for RTÉ Radio 1 later in that decade, becoming a pioneering and distinctive voice in science broadcasting.