Obituary: Paula Loughlin 1941-2011

Paula grew up in Rathgar, Dublin.  Having  graduated from UCD and, after a brief spell teaching in London, Paula worked in the Civil Service in the Department  of Foreign Affairs. As was the requirement in those days,  she had to resign from the Department on marriage.  She moved to Bonn with her husband, Seán Donlon.  They returned  to Ireland in 1971 and   moved  to Washington when Seán was appointed  Ambassador to the USA in the late 1970’s. At her funeral  a former colleague of hers from Washington spoke to me of how she greatly admired the manner in which Paula had managed her role there.

The family returned to Ireland in 1981. Paula soon became  involved in the WPA (Women’s Political Association) and in AIM (Family Mediation and Counselling Service). She trained as a psychotherapist  in Eckhart House.

She became a member of IAHIP in 1996. I got to know her  in 2000 when we served together on the Governing Body. Paula already had extensive experience on a number of IAHIP committees. She had a particular interest in the Ethics Committee. Paula was invited to put herself forward for the position of Chair in 2002 when Brian Howlett was stepping down. It was only when Paula declined that I was invited to put my name forward. I agreed on the condition that Paula would go for the position of Vice-Chair. She agreed. We were elected to these positions and served for the next two years. Paula provided huge support and encouragement in her role as Vice-Chair. She had a capacity to retain facts and history and frequently reminded us of the context in which this or that bye-law had come into effect. She represented IAHIP on the ICP Executive for seven years.

Paula maintained a private practice in Ranelagh as a psychotherapist and supervisor. Bridge, tennis, a book-club, visits to the cinema formed a big part of her social life. However  her engagement with her family was always the most important aspect of her life. Her daughter Monica’s  three children  were a constant source of interest and joy and pride for her. Their musical prowess represented the extent to which Paula and her family were steeped in music through voice and instrument. At the  funeral Mass, Monica, Aisling, Aoife and Claire gave a wonderful rendering of On Eagles’ Wings by Joncas. We were reminded of the gifts which Paula has passed on to the next generation. And as I listened I remembered how proud Paula was when a choral performance by Anúna, of which Monica is a longstanding member, opened the EAP Conference in the O’Reilly Hall in UCD in 2000.

In the last three or four years Paula’s health began to decline. She was, thankfully, able to celebrate the birth of her first grandson, Alex, born to Brendan and Fióna four years ago. Alex carefully and steadily carried the Chalice from the centre of the church to the altar at his Grandmother’s mass. Observing the concentration he brought to this task I have no doubt that he will always remember the occasion.

Although Paula found travel difficult she visited France regularly in order to attend family occasions involving her older sister Ann, her nephew and her niece, who are living there. Sadly she was too ill to attend her younger sister’s funeral in April of this year. Margaret’s untimely death was a shock to all the family as the focus had been on Paula’s condition.

Monica and Brendan together with the support of their spouses Con and Fióna cared tirelessly for Paula in the last year. It was  difficult and distressing for them to see their mother suffer so that when the end came on  7th August  it was a relief to see her finally at peace.

IAHIP was well represented at her funeral mass in Mount Argus. Paula is buried in Glasnevin .

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam.

Sheila Killoran-Gannon


Every voluntary organisation, IAHIP being no exception, has its share of unsung heroes, those who give their services to the organisation in a quiet, almost unnoticed, manner and who seek no recognition for themselves in return. Paula Loughlin, who died in August following a long debilitating illness, was assuredly one of those. Although rarely in the limelight, Paula gave enormously of her time and her considerable talents to IAHIP as the following record of her involvement in the work of the organisation shows:

  • In March 1996, only two months after her accreditation, she became a member of the Ethics Committee with which she served for four years;
  • Between March 2000 and March 2005 she was a member of the Governing Body, being its Vice-Chair from 2002 to 2004;
  • She joined the Re-Accreditation Committee in 2001 and the Training Recognition Committee the following year, serving on both these committees until the early onset of her illness in 2009 caused her to step down from her professional activities;
  • Between 2002 and 2009 she also served as one of IAHIP’s representatives on the Board of ICP.

To these tasks she brought a wealth of talent. She was a gifted writer, combining the creative writing skills that were evident in her short story writing (I remember reading one of them in the Sunday Tribune) with the clarity of the analytic commentator, admirably shown, I recall, in work she published in the ’70s when she was a very effective advocate for women’s rights as a member of AIM and the Women’s Political Association.

Paula came from a very distinguished musical family: her father, Lt. Colonel J.M. Doyle, was the first Irish Director of the Army School of Music and a regular guest Conductor of the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra while her mother and her sister Ann were long-time members of that orchestra. Paula herself had a lovely singing voice and she and her other sister, Margaret, were members of the St. James’s Gate Choral Society in Dublin.

In mentioning Margaret (who herself was a work colleague of mine for many years and who generously gave invaluable secretarial help to IAHIP when we were first setting up our various Bye Laws), I want to record here the sad fact that Margaret died suddenly only a month or so before Paula and that Paula at that time was too ill to be able to absorb that news.

Paula was a truly gracious and generous woman and we were honoured and fortunate to have the benefit of her wisdom and her skills as an active member of our Association.

On behalf of the Governing Body and of the Association as a whole, I offer our deepest sympathy to Paula’s sister, Ann, and to her children, Monica and Brendan.


Brían Howlett