Paula Meehan

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Paula Meehan
Paula Meehan 2009.jpg
Paula Meehan, 2009

Paula Meehan is an Irish poet and playwright. Born in Dublin in 1955, Meehan studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and at Eastern Washington University.[1]


Paula Meehan was born in Dublin in 1955, the eldest of six children. She started school at St. Elizabeth's in Kingston upon Thames, England, where her parents had travelled to find work. She subsequently attended a number of primary schools around Dublin. She finished her primary education at the Central Model Girls' School in Gardiner Street.

She began her secondary education at St. Michael's Holy Faith Covent in Finglas but was expelled for organising a protest march against the regime of the school. She studied for her Intermediate Certificate on her own and then went to Whitehall House Senior School, a vocational school, to study for her Leaving Certificate. Outside school she was a member of a dance drama group, became involved in band culture and, around 1970, began to write lyrics. Gradually composing song lyrics would give way to writing poetry.

At Trinity College, Dublin, (1972–77) she studied English, History and Classical Civilization, taking five years to complete her Bachelor of Arts degree. This included one year off, spent travelling through Europe. While a student she was involved in street theatre and various kinds of performance.

After college she travelled again, spending long stretches in Greece, Germany, Scotland and England. She was offered a teaching fellowship at Eastern Washington University where she studied (1981–83) with James J. McAuley in a two-year programme which led to a Master of Fine Arts degree in Poetry. Gary Snyder & Carolyn Kizer were among the distinguished visiting writers to have a profound influence on her work and on her thought. She returned to Dublin in the mid-eighties. Her poem "Seed" was used in the 2010 Leaving Certificate examination as the unseen poem, although (critically) the department misprinted 'useful' as 'useless' which somewhat diminished the meaning of the poem. In September 2013, Meehan was awarded the Chair of Irish Poetry, Professor of Poetry, by President Michael D. Higgins.[2]



  • Return and no Blame. Dublin: Beaver Row Press, 1984.
  • Reading the Sky. Dublin: Beaver Row Press, 1986.
  • The Man who was Marked by Winter. Oldcastle, Co. Meath: Gallery, 1991. North American edition with foreword by Eavan Boland. Cheney, WA: Eastern Washington University Press, 1994.
  • Pillow Talk. Oldcastle, Co. Meath: Gallery Press, 1994.
  • Mysteries of the Home: A Selection of Poems. Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 1996.
  • Dharmakaya. Carcanet: Manchester, 2000. Winston-Salem, NC: Wake Forest University Press, 2001.
  • Six Sycamores. With Marie Foley, sculpture and drawings. Belfast: Crowquill, 2004.
  • Three Irish Poets: an anthology. Paula Meehan, Mary O'Malley, Eavan Boland. Edited by Eavan Boland. Manchester: Carcanet, 2003.
  • Painting Rain. Manchester: Carcanet, 2009. Winston-Salem, NC: Wake Forest University Press, 2009.


  • Kirkle. Produced by Team Theatre Company. Dalkey School Project, Dalkey, Co. Dublin, 1995.
  • The Voyage, Produced by the Team Educational Theatre Company of Dublin, The Ark, 1997.
  • Mrs. Sweeney, in Rough Magic: First Plays. Edited by Siobhan Bourke, Dublin: New Island Books, 1999. Produced by Rough Magic Company, Dublin, 1997.
  • Cell: a play in two parts for four actors and a voice. Dublin: New Island Books, 2000. Produced by Calypso Company, Dublin, 1999.
  • Janey Mac is Going to Die. Dramatic monologue (28 mins). RTÉ Radio 1, 2001. Repeat 2002.
  • The Wolf of Winter. Produced by the Abbey Company: Abbey Theatre of Dublin, 2003.
  • Wuthering Heights. Two-hour adaptation of the novel for RTÉ Radio 1, 2003. Repeat March 2004.
  • The Lover. Dramatic monologue (35 mins) RTÉ Radio 1 January 2005.
  • Threehander. One-hour radio play, RTÉ Radio, 2005.
  • Music for Dogs: Three radio plays. Dublin: Dedalus Press, 2008.


Paula Meehan has also written poetry for film, for contemporary dance companies and for collaborations with visual artists; her poems have been put to music by songwriters (including Christy Moore) and composers.[3] Her poetry has been extensively published in translation, including substantial collections in French and German.[3]

The 2015 Poetry Competition 'A Poem for Ireland' shortlisted her 1991 poem 'The Statue of the Virgin at Granard Speaks' in the final ten poems.


  • Arts Council Bursaries in Literature (1987, 1990)
  • The Martin Toonder Award for Literature (1995)
  • Elected Member of Aosdána (1996)
  • The Butler Literary Award for Poetry presented by the Irish American Cultural Institute (1998)
  • Denis Devlin Memorial Award for Dharmakaya (2001)
  • PPI Award for Radio Drama, Best Play (2005)



Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ The Wake Forest Book of Irish Women's Poetry: 1967 - 2000, Wake Forest University Press, 1999.
  2. ^ "Leaving Certificate Exam Papers 2010" (PDF). Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Paula Meehan: A Selected Bibliography. ''An Sionnach'' 5.1 and 5.2 (Bealtaine/Spring and Samhain/Fall 2009)". Retrieved 25 January 2013. 

External links[edit]