Speaking to RTÉ host Doireann Garrihy’s The Laughs of Your Life podcast, Ms McDonald told how she believes she can be the next Taoiseach but it is “not inevitable” and it is “all still to play for” as she discussed her political ambitions.
She described the Dancing with the Stars host’s impression of her as “hilarious” and better than comedian Oliver Callan’s “bossy” version of her.
“Oliver Callan does me very bossy, very bossy. I don’t know what that’s all about. Yours is the best.”
The Sinn Féin leader also confessed that she had listened to Tánaiste Micheál Martin’s “very good” episode on The Laughs of Your Life to “see what the opposition was like”.
When asked about a moment she felt laughed at, Ms McDonald said it has happened “lot’s of times actually”, adding: “This is private me. Sure, they’re constantly laughing at me as a public figure. It goes with the turf, I’ll go with that.”
The Sinn Féin leader told the podcast host about the hair henna she would use with her sister as teenagers, telling how one experiment gave them haircuts “kind of like Bosco”.
Ms McDonald admits she “howls laughing” at impressions of her and she enjoys it, but coming to terms with “nastiness” is a journey for anyone in public life.
“You have to get to the point where you are either going to acquire the resilience to cope with it and a lot of times to ignore it or it is something, I think, that could eat you up and really throw you off your game.
“That bit I think you have to get used to,” she said, telling the podcast that she has never gotten to the point where she has said “this is too much” as she has “known the value of what we’re doing”.
“There are moments where you say ‘Really? Seriously? What’s that achieving?’ but that’s a minority of people who go on like that. It’s a minority pursuit so you have to give yourself a bit of a talking to.
“If you’re in public life, you step out there you’re going to get all sorts of feedback: really positive, great fun, you’re in a very privileged position because you get into people’s lives in a way that’s actually quite special.
“I know people give out about politicians (that) ‘ah, they’re all the same, they’re a pain in the arse, da da da da’ – I hear that. I know that. I have some sympathy with it but for all that, people tell you things and let you in in a way that’s really quite astonishing.”
She added: “Going with that means you’re going to have people that don’t like you for whatever reason and some of them, not all by any means, at times will have a right good go off you and you have to get cool with that to live this life and to do this job.
“Pity party over,” she laughed.
Her ‘no laughing matter moment’ came at a time in her childhood after her parents split up, telling the RTÉ star that it was something that was “very difficult for us as a family” at the time.
“Maybe one of the most difficult situations was actually when I was expecting my first child and my friend was expecting her second child and she died in childbirth,” she said.
“I had heard the baby arrived, I was delighted. It was my birthday, so my mother said ‘No, no, you can go and see her later, come with me’ so we went off somewhere and I came home that evening to hear the news that – my husband saying that ‘there’s just bad news’.
“I thought it was the baby and he said ‘no, Ellen died’. That was 20 years ago. My daughter will be 21. The baby was born and safe and beautiful, she will turn 21 as well.”
She added: “That was one thing I could never, ever get my head around to this day that that actually happened.”
On her own heath and the hysterectomy she underwent in June, Ms McDonald said she was “so consumed with how I was going to schedule – this is going to sound awful – the surgery and the intervention that I needed, that actually the significance of it didn’t really land with me”.
She told the RTÉ star that it had “never occurred” to her that things “could have been anything other than fine” than when the doctor gave her the good news.
“I’m not a health guru, I’m just a woman doing a job but I think it’s important that these things are said out loud and spoken about, it’s a healthy thing.”
When asked about a moment when she has “had the last laugh”, Ms McDonald said: “Oh, Doireann. ‘Having the last laugh’ to me kind of sounds a little bit vengeful, that’s not me. That’s not me at all.”
She told how when she became the leader of Sinn Féin there appeared to be an assumption that a woman was not up for the task or that she had “chanced” her way to the job.
“I felt – and feel – after the last election, that answered some of that back. I’m not saying I ‘had the last laugh’ but I think it put down a marker for me personally.”