Sylvia Meehan

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Sylvia Meehan
Born(1929-04-02)2 April 1929
Dublin, Ireland
Died6 September 2018(2018-09-06) (aged 89)
Galway, Ireland
EducationUniversity College Dublin
Known forActivist on the rights of women and older people[1]

Sylvia Meehan (2 April 1929[2] – 6 September 2018) was an Irish campaigner for the rights of women and older people.

Early career[edit]

Meehan was born Sylvia Shiel on 2 April 1929 in Dublin. She gained her education first in the Loreto Sisters at North Great George's Street and then attended University College Dublin where she studied legal and political science.[3] While there she became the first woman to win the Literary and Historical Association gold medal in 1951. She married and when her husband Denis died in 1969 she began her career working as a teacher of English and History in the Cabinteely School.[4][5][6][7]

She and her husband had five children, John, Niall, Sarah, Richard and Rosa.[5][4][6]


Meehan joined the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland where she went on to become vice president, and became active in the women's movement. She chaired the women's committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.[5][4][6]

In 1977, Meehan was appointed the first chief executive of the Employment Equality Agency. Her position ensured research into problems facing girls and women. The specific areas tended to be issues in education and employment such as maternity leave and childcare.[5] She was considered instrumental in achieving equal pay for women.[4][6][8][9][10][11]

Meehan retired in 1992. She was president and founder of the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament and on the National Council on Ageing and Older People.[12] In 1997 the University of Limerick awarded her a Doctor of Laws.[5][4][13][14][15][16]

The National Women's Council of Ireland director Orla O'Connor said that she "was a trailblazer for women's equality. "She campaigned tirelessly for the rights of women workers and older women".

She died in Galway after a long illness in September 2018.[4][6][17]

References and sources[edit]

  1. ^ "Sylvia Meehan | Irish Senior Citizens' Parliament".
  2. ^
  3. ^ "7 BIOGRAPHIES".
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Women's rights activist Sylvia Meehan dies aged 89". The Irish Times.
  5. ^ a b c d e Miley, Ingrid (6 September 2018). "Women's rights campaigner Sylvia Meehan dies aged 89".
  6. ^ a b c d e Hennessy, Michelle. "'A towering figure in the struggle': Tributes after death of women's rights campaigner Sylvia Meehan".
  7. ^ "Where are they now: Sylvia Meehan -".
  8. ^ Anthony Bradley; Maryann Gialanella Valiulis (1997). Gender and Sexuality in Modern Ireland. Univ of Massachusetts Press. pp. 274–. ISBN 1-55849-131-7.
  9. ^ Yvonne Galligan (1 January 1998). Women and Politics in Contemporary Ireland: From the Margins to the Mainstream. A&C Black. pp. 87–. ISBN 978-1-85567-433-2.
  10. ^ Rosemary Cullen Owens (25 October 2005). A Social History of Women in Ireland, 1870–1970: An Exploration of the Changing Role and Status of Women in Irish Society. Gill Books. pp. 318–. ISBN 978-0-7171-6455-4.
  11. ^ Daniel Webster Hollis (2001). The History of Ireland. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 195–. ISBN 978-0-313-31281-6.
  12. ^ "On the Couch". The Irish Times.
  13. ^ "Elderly people want more than a seat on the bus | An Phoblacht".
  14. ^ "Stop portraying old people as lonely".
  15. ^ "Exemplary roles earn awards". The Irish Times.
  16. ^ "Government urged to abolish poverty by 2006". The Irish Times.
  17. ^ "Death Notice of Sylvia MEEHAN (née Shiel)".