This Much I Know: Louisa Meehan - President of Network Ireland

Louisa Meehan reflects on her childhood in Leitrim, her traumatic pregnancy and her new new role as President of Network Ireland.
This Much I Know: Louisa Meehan - President of Network Ireland
Louisa Meehan

I am not afraid to ask for help.

Even though I have been called emotionally resilient, by a psychiatrist, no less.

I grew up in Leitrim, the eldest of two, and worked hard in school. I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to make money. Both my parents ran their own businesses - dad’s was construction, mum’s was IT training. At seventeen I left for UCD which was a complete culture shock, although it did help make me who I am. I did business and law, followed by an MA in the Smurfit Business School.

If I could change one thing in our society I’d bring back a sense of community. We’ve become too insular and too focused on technology. I think it really does take a village to raise a child but we are completely losing what I experienced growing up. We lived on the outskirts of Manorhamilton but my father’s aunt and uncle, who raised him, lived in the centre of town and I grew up knowing everyone in the entire neighbourhood.

I worked in HR in the Bank of Ireland for years but got tired of commuting from Dublin to Wicklow once we had our two boys. It wasn’t the right fit for me so I took voluntary redundancy. It was a massive gamble, but I had to let go. I was losing me. I’m so glad I did, as the moment I left that job, I immediately felt such a sense of relief.

In 2015 I set up my own HR business but it was joining Network Ireland that really changed my work life. It’s a Network for women in business and has brought me so many business contacts - not to mention new friends. I’ve just become its President.

I met my husband Mark at a disco in Manorhamiltorn when I was nineteen. He came between me and the bar at last orders! He’s from Birmingham but was working there in IT in Leitrim at the time. I found him to be the most interesting and challenging guy I’d ever met and felt that I’d just like to talk to him forever.

My biggest challenge has been parenting. It is definitely the biggest joy and the biggest challenge. I had a very traumatic delivery with my first child. Afterwards, it was a proper life and death scenario for me. On the worst night of all my sister came with me in the ambulance to Sligo General - my son was just nine days old - and kept saying, ‘Just breathe - let the rest of us do everything else.’

Ambition is more important than talent.

I’m a big fan of Carol S. Dweck’s Growth Mindset approach - in a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.

My idea of misery is having to do what somebody else tells me. I like being in control.

My idea of bliss is having a day off completely to myself for a facial and a massage, followed by a takeaway, a bar of chocolate, a bottle of wine and a movie of my choice.

I don’t believe in fate. I think we have the power to influence our own destinies.

If I could be reborn as someone else for a day I’d be Michelle Obama during her husband’s last term in office.

Leitrim will always be home but my second favourite place is the beach near where we live in Glenealy in Wicklow.

My biggest extravagance was buying myself a diamond and sapphire ring with money left to me by my grandmother.

The character trait I most admire in others is loyalty.

The thing that irritates me most about others is oneupmanship.

So far life has taught me that where there is darkness, there will also be light. Nothing lasts for ever and in our darkest moments we really must simply keep breathing.

Louisa Meehan is President of Network Ireland, a dynamic women’s group with almost 1200 members nationwide, passionate about growing the value and recognition of women’s contributions to Ireland’s economy and society overall.

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