Beere, Thekla (June) (1901–91), civil servant and first chairman of the Commission on the Status of Women, was born 20 June 1901 in Kilmore, Columbkille, near Granard, Co. Longford, one of two daughters of the Rev. Francis John Armstrong Beere, Church of Ireland vicar of Streete, Co. Westmeath, and Lucie Beere (née Potterton). The family later lived in the parishes of Forgney, Co. Longford, and Kells, Co. Meath. A delicate and poorly child, she received her early education at home from her mother, who encouraged her to study despite her illness, before being sent at the age of 14 to Alexandra School, and later Alexandra College. There she was a scholarship-winning pupil. Entering TCD in 1919, where she was the sole female student in the department of law, she supplemented the £1 a month she received from her father through teaching French, dressmaking, and her work as housemistress in Alexandra School. On graduating LLB and BA Mod. in legal and political science (1923), she found few employment opportunities open to her. She took the advice of a Trinity professor and entered the civil service as a Grade III temporary clerk in 1924, beginning her career in the statistics branch of the Department of Industry and Commerce. Having been granted a two-year leave of absence in 1925 on a Laura Spellman Rockefeller fellowship, she spent the period that followed studying at Columbia University, New York, the Brookings Institute, Washington, DC, and Berkeley, University of California, and working in various government offices and research institutions in New York, Washington, Chicago, and Ottawa. While in the USA she also participated in the campaign to reprieve the condemned anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti, travelled extensively, and developed her lifelong enthusiasm for walking. Back in Ireland in 1931 she became a founder member of An Óige.
After her return to Dublin, she rejoined the statistics branch of the Department of Industry and Commerce. With her widowed mother to support, she supplemented her income by teaching statistics two evenings a week in TCD and writing editorials for the Dublin Chamber of Commerce journal. With a view to securing promotion she changed her career path by entering the general service grades, and in 1941 was promoted and transferred to the transport and marine section of the department. Appointed principal officer (1943), she worked on the problem of supplies during the Emergency, was closely associated with the development of Irish Shipping Ltd, and worked extensively on preparation of the transport acts (1944 and 1950) and harbours act (1946). This was followed by promotion to assistant secretary (1953), when she headed the labour division that sponsored the factories act (1955) and office premises act (1958). She regularly led the Irish delegation to the International Labour Office in Geneva, and for a time was appointed to the chair of its finance committee. She also attended talks between the Dublin and Stormont governments on the north–south rail link, which led to the Great Northern Railways act (1958). The following year the taoiseach, Seán Lemass (qv), appointed her secretary of the newly established Department of Transport and Power. The first woman to hold such a senior post in the Irish civil service, as secretary she focused on developing the department's relations with state-sponsored bodies and negotiated with British and American representatives on the question of reciprocal landing rights and in talks leading up to Ireland's involvement in Eurocontrol.
Having retired in 1966, she was appointed to the Public Services Organisation Review Group, which, in the Devlin report (1969), recommended major changes in the public sector. A pragmatic feminist, she subsequently accepted the government's offer to chair the Commission on the Status of Women. The Beere report (1972) – which examined issues such as the elimination of the marriage bar, maternity leave, and equal pay – proved to be a watershed in Irish women's rights, leading to the formation of the Council for the Status of Women. In 1974 she attended the World Population Conference in Bucharest as a government delegate. She was secretary (1949–55) and later president (1971–4) of the Statistical and Social Enquiry Society of Ireland. Active in Church of Ireland affairs, she was also a governor of the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, a member of Alexandra College council (1962–86) and president of both the Irish Film Society and An Óige. A governor of the Irish Times Trust from its establishment in 1974, she was also a director of the newspaper. She received an honorary LLD from Dublin University in 1960. Her name was mentioned as a possible candidate for the Irish presidency in 1976. She died 19 February 1991 in Killiney, Co. Dublin; she never married.