Poet and playwright Paula Meehan was born and reared in the north inner city of Dublin. She studied at Trinity College, Dublin and at Eastern Washington University in the United States. She has published six collections of poetry, the most recent in 2009 – Painting Rain. She has written plays for both adults and children, including Cell (which was set in the women's prison at Mountjoy) and The Wolf of Winter. Her work has been translated into many languages with substantial selections of her poetry published in French, German, Galician, Japanese, Estonian, Greek, and smaller selections published in other languages including Irish. Some of her poems have been set to music by artists as diverse as Christy Moore, the folksinger, and John W. Brennan, the avant garde composer, and she has collaborated with dancers, visual artists and film makers over the years.
Paula was appointed Ireland Professor of Poetry by President of Ireland Michael D Higgins on 13th September 2013. Among other awards, she has received the Butler Literary Award for Poetry presented by the Irish American Cultural Institute, the Marten Toonder Award for Literature, and the Denis Devlin Award for Dharmakaya, published in 2000. She was honoured with election to Aosdána in 1996.
She has taught poetry in the prisons of the Republic, including Shelton Abbey, Mountjoy, Portlaoise and Arbour Hill prisons, and in many of the universities and in community contexts.
On Sunday 26th February 2012, Paula co-hosted 'The Old Triangle -A celebration for the benefit of the Irish Penal Reform Trust' with Theo Dorgan at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. A truly magical evening, IPRT remains extremely grateful to Paula and Theo, along with all the artists who waived their fees for the evening, for dedicating so much time and energy to raising awareness of the need for penal reform and the place of prison and prisoners in society.
[Photo: Paula Meehan at 'The Old Triangle' in the Abbey Theatre, 26th Feb 2012 ©Derek Speirs]