McAleese: 'I didn't see the bust coming'
on 09/10/2012 00:00:00
The mother-of-three said her children were also among the generation who are saddled with paying over-priced mortgages.
She said on the new RTÉ series: "I wish I could say I had the gift of prophecy that allowed me to see the bust coming but I didn't.
"We built our home in the middle of the Celtic Tiger and we paid acres of money for acres of land and our children bought their homes at the height of the Celtic Tiger."
She said she had raised concerns to the then taoiseach Bertie Ahern about the rising house prices but neither of them foresaw the economic crash.
"I did have concerns about the rising prices and from time to time I discussed that and raised that. In fairness to Bertie Ahern he was always so respectful of the presidency and we had great debates and [shared] worries at times," she said.
"I talked about making sure the Celtic Tiger wasn't a selfish place and was a place where we actually used this opportunity to become a caring, decent, good society that looked after everybody."
Mrs McAleese, who is studying canon law in Rome, also spoke of her marriage to dentist Martin McAleese. "He has infinite patience and forgiveness," she joked. "I know I will be with him until the day I die, so what is the point in huffing anymore?
"Martin's personality really, really suits mine. He wasn't the only person I ever fell in love with but he was the only person I fell in love with that I could make a lifetime's commitment to."
In the candid interview, she also told how her father stopped her from becoming embroiled in sectarian violence as a teenager during the height of the Troubles.
She said: "I was young and very headstrong. I was tempted to but I didn't, thank goodness. I remember at one time when there was a bunch of lads who were throwing stones right across the Crumlin Rd where we were living and it was hot and heavy between Catholics and Protestants.
"I came racing up to our house to get the milk bottles to bring them down either to throw them or to give them to the guys. I wouldn't have been making [petrol bombs] but some of the guys would have been making them.
"When my father saw what I was doing there was war. He said 'you will stay in the house and say your prayers'. That's where you get good guidance and you are helped and guided to make good choices.
"My parents never uttered a sectarian word."
* The Meaning of Life with Gay Byrne will air on RTÉ One tonight at 10.15pm.