Máire Geoghegan was born on 5 September 1950 in County Galway. She was educated in Mayo and at a teacher training college in Dublin. Her father, Johnny Geoghegan, was Fianna Fáil TD for Galway West from 1954 until his death in 1975. His daughter successfully contested the subsequent by-election and was successful. Between 1977 and 1979 she worked as Parliamentary Secretary at the Department of Industry, Commerce and Energy. in 1979 she became the first woman to hold a cabinet post when she became Minister for the Gaeltacht.
in 1982 she was appointed Minister of State at the Department of Education. In 1987 she became Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach. She resigned in 1991 in opposition to Charles Haughey's leadership of the party. The following year Albert Reynolds became Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader. Máire Geoghegan-Quinn was appointed Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications. In 1993 she became Minister for Justice. She introduced substantial law reform legislation.
When Reynolds resigned as party leader she announced that she would challenge Bertie Ahern for the position. However on the day of the vote she withdrew from the contest. In 1997 she retired from politics. She became a non-executive director with Aer Lingus and a journalist. In 1999 she was appointed to the European Court of Auditors.