Tynan, Margaret (1930–2007), first woman mayor of Kilkenny, was born 15 November 1930 in Kilkenny city, only daughter of Pierce Tynan and his wife Mary ('Minnie') (née McGrath); there were also three sons. Pierce Tynan set up a prosperous motor company and garage in Kilkenny, and was for many years an alderman on Kilkenny Corporation. Margaret went to school in the Presentation Convent, Kilkenny, and the Brigidine Convent, Mountrath, Co. Laois. She wanted to become a doctor and spent two years studying medicine in UCD, but had to abandon her studies to look after her parents when they became ill; her father died in 1952 and her mother in 1953. Margaret Tynan became a director in the family motor business and was a keen amateur rally driver, until the death at age 32 of her brother Paddy in a crash, while practising for a motor race, on Duncannon Strand, Co. Wexford, in June 1957. Another brother, Dick, died of a heart attack aged 44, and the third, Dominic, aged 46, drowned while on holiday at Barley Cove, Co. Cork, in 1974, so for about ten years Margaret ran the business on her own.
As a young woman, Tynan was enthusiastically involved in sports and in many local activities and cultural societies. She represented her county in camogie, badminton and table tennis, and was later lady captain at Kilkenny Golf Club. Kilkenny Soroptimists, of which she was a founding member, suggested that she stand for elections to Kilkenny Corporation, but she was reluctant to go forward as a representative of an all-woman organisation. Instead, as the first and, at the time, the only woman member of Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce, she accepted the proposal that she should stand with their support in the local elections of 1967. While still in her first term on the corporation, she was elected the city's first woman mayor, unanimously and unopposed, in July 1969. In the 1974 Kilkenny County Council elections, she was elected for the Tullaroan district, having stood as a Fine Gael candidate; in 1975 she became first woman chairman of the county council. She was also the first woman president of the chamber of commerce, and held that office on four occasions.
Tynan served on various regional bodies, and was first woman chairman of the South Eastern Rural Development Organisation, but it was as a lifelong city councillor and mayor that she was best known; she was elected mayor on eight occasions (1969, 1970, 1977, 1985–8, and 1997), and her name and face were seldom out of local newspapers. She campaigned on planning and heritage issues, and had considerable input to a 1978 study which set out plans for Kilkenny's development for the following twenty-five years. The mayor and some of the councillors wanted to see new suburbs created, as well as what is now known as infill development within the mediaeval street plan, rather than the then fashionable redevelopment which would have meant the loss of a heritage cityscape. Somewhat ahead of contemporaries in realising the commercial advantages of preserving old buildings, she was genuinely interested in history and was a member of local history societies and regional tourism agencies.
Alongside Margaret Phelan (qv), Tynan was involved with founding and sustaining Kilkenny Civic Trust, which worked to preserve important historical buildings, notably the Butler House and the Shee Alms House. She was chairman of a committee set up to raise funds to buy the Butler House, and, with support from council officials, sought new uses for ancient structures, in several cases ensuring their refurbishment and survival. On one occasion, she is said to have stood in front of a threatened tree, defying the contractor who was planning to cut it down. She took a strong interest in ecological issues, especially the preservation of the Newpark Fen wildlife sanctuary, and was an active member of the Keep Kilkenny Beautiful committee.
Obituaries emphasised her role in maintaining Kilkenny's heritage, but Tynan's lifetime contribution to social and equality issues was perhaps equally significant. Despite her pioneering status in local politics, her views were not particularly radical, and she was adept at operating within the status quo. However, she did on occasion speak out about the need for Irish women to challenge it. She expressed impatience with women's acquiescence in inequality, and suggested that equality reforms in the Roman catholic church would come more quickly if women stopped contributing to Sunday collections. Tynan's support in 1992 and 1993 for the Kilkenny girl Lavinia Kerwick, the first rape victim to waive anonymity to protest at her attacker's suspended sentence, was wholehearted; the councillor organised a demonstration in the city to protest against all violence to women. It was attended by 700 people, widely reported, and helped highlight the issue nationally. Tynan spoke out about the need to change existing legislation on rape and incest. Afterwards she led the campaign which resulted in the opening of a rape crisis centre in the city, and was its first president; she also brought about the establishment of a citizens' advice bureau in Kilkenny.
One of the city's most popular and respected citizens, she represented Kilkenny at the St Patrick's Day parade in New York city in 1997; she was chosen Kilkenny person of the year, and was included in the Kilkenny hall of fame in 2004. After her retirement from active politics she remained closely involved in Kilkenny civic life and chaired several meetings to address the issue of anti-social behaviour in the city.
Margaret Tynan died in Kilkenny on 27 October 2007 and was buried in St Kieran's cemetery. In February 2014 her papers were presented to the Kilkenny Archives by her life partner, Elaine Bradshaw.