18 Dr Maureen Dowd

Maureen as a young girl in her shamrock dress
1. From article By Niall O'Dowd, [Publisher] in April / May 2010 from Irish America magazine is the leading national glossy publication of Irish interest in North America
Maureen Dowd
Irish Central Newspaper
2. Laying a wreath at the statue of John King in Cornmarket and formally launch the town's first heritage walk.
Averil Staunton

Pulitzer Prize winner Maureen Dowd’s links stretch back to Ballinrobe to the 1800s, when her grandfather lived at Cornmarket, which she was delighted to visit the day after she was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature (honoris causa) at National University of Ireland, Galway.

Born in Washington, D.C. in 1952, to an Irish Catholic family, Maureen was the youngest of five children of a Washington police officer. Her dad Michael who, despite a rudimentary education, made it into the police force where he quickly climbed the ladder; a good cop who could spot a phony a mile away.  Soon after he was made detective, he met Peggy Meenehan, whose father managed the local family bar.

The detective and the barkeep’s daughter were both champion Irish dancers. In 1934 they married; the age difference being 18 years. They raised five kids together – Maureen, the youngest, Michael, Martin, Kevin and Peggy (the family historian). He also rose through the ranks of the Ancient Order of Hibernians to become the head of the largest Irish organization in America.

In the 1970s, Maureen’s mother Peggy led a demonstration at the British Embassy in Washington after Bloody Sunday when 14 were shot by British forces in Derry. To her eternal satisfaction, the then British ambassador had to sneak in through the underground garage.

She was an ardent of the Peace Process supporter. It was to this woman that Maureen’s addresses some of her columns describing them as letters to her mother, whom friends credit as “the source, the fountain of Maureen’s humour and her Irish sensibilities with her intellectual take”. Dowd’s columns have also been described being political cartoons that capture a caricatured view of the current political landscape with precision and exaggeration.

Is it any wonder that Maureen was described as the Fighting Irish Girl by Niall O’Dowd[1], who inherited her parents’ astute traits which turned her into an award-winning columnist and author?

Ms Dowd received a BA degree in English from Catholic University (Washington) in 1973 and began her career in 1974 as an editorial assistant for the Washington Star where she later became a sports columnist, metropolitan reporter, and feature writer.

A Pulitzer Prize finalist for national reporting in 1992, Ms Dowd received the Breakthrough Award from ‘Women, Men and Media’ at Columbia University in 1991 and a Matrix Award from New York Women in Communications in 1994. She was named one of Glamour’s Women of the Year for 1996 and won the Damon Runyon award in 2000 for outstanding contributions to journalism. Dowd is the author of two bestselling books Bushworld:  Enter at Your Own Risk (2004) and Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide (2005) which was a blistering critique of modern gender relations.

Dowd’s meteoric rise to the top of the media pile was achieved through sheer dint of hard work and an unerring eye for the critical detail that everyone else was missing. She finally reached another peak in her career when she became winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary, becoming an Op-Ed columnist in 1995. In August 2014, she also became a writer for The Times Magazine and has reported on issues of gender around the globe for 30 years. The National Society of Newspaper Columnists awarded her with its highest honour, the Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.

Maureen visits Ireland regularly and along her career-path has ended forever the view that women writers leave the challenging views to their male counterparts. She stepped up and was counted! She questions in her bestselling 2006 book Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide; “if there’s one thing men fear, it’s a woman who uses her critical faculties.”


[1] Niall O’Dowd is the co-founder of Irish America magazine as well as the founder of the Irish Voice Newspaper and Irishcentral.com and publishes Home and Away, a successful weekly free sheet. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by University College Dublin for his work on the Irish peace process which was a subject of a book Daring Diplomacy and a PBS Special An Irish Voice. He is also an adjunct professor at Columbia University journalism school. The article appeared in April/May 2010 Irish American magazine https://irishamerica.com/2011/12/niall-odowd/

Book & Links:

Dowd, Maureen Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide, Berkley, 2006

Related websites:

  1. http://www6.nuigalway.ie/about-us/news-and-events/news-archive/2012/june2012/nui-galway-honours-four-outstanding-individuals-with-honorary-degrees-1.html
  2. https://www.amazon.com/Maureen-Dowd/e/B001IXQBMO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
  3. https://irishamerica.com/2011/12/niall-odowd/
  4.  https://www.irishcentral.com/opinion/10-years-a-growing-the-mad-beginning-of-irishcentral



No Comments

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this page!

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *