Curtis, Maeve (1911–71), journalist and teacher, was born Alice Margaret, 7 August 1911, at West Teebane, Co. Tyrone, fifth child of four daughters and one son of John Curtis and his wife Alice Geown, both from Tyrone. Her father was a farmer-builder. Her mother died when she was 18 months old and her father when she was 11. She was educated at Gortin primary school, and as a boarder at Thornhill convent, Derry. She trained as a domestic science teacher at the Municipal College of Technology, Belfast College and later at the Training College for Domestic Economy Teachers, Belfast, where she came first in her year. From 1932 to 1934 she was a domestic science teacher in the senior school at Dudley Domestic Science Centre, Northumberland. From 1934 to 1936 she was at Newbiggen-by-Sea, Northumberland and from 1936 to 1939 at Leamington secondary school, Northumberland and at Glossop grammar school and New Mills secondary school, Derbyshire. She was greatly influenced by the sight of the Jarrow hunger marches of the 1930s, and this was later reflected in her journalism.
She returned to Ireland in September 1939 and taught domestic science, day and evening classes, at Borris vocational school, Co. Carlow. She was the author of a handbook on teaching domestic science in vocational schools for the Department of Education. After her marriage in 1943 she had to resign her teaching post and turned to journalism; it seemed to her that the rural woman's point of view was never heard. She was a founder member of the Bagenalstown Irish Countrywomen's Association (ICA) guild in 1945 and when she moved to Cork in 1950 she joined the Bishopstown guild. She became woman's page editor of the Cork Examiner in 1951 under the pen name ‘Maeve’, the name by which she was known from then on. While with the Cork Examiner she continued her battles for better consumer education, greater stress on the value of home economics and the spread of adult education. She served on the executive committee of the ICA from 1961 to 1963 and was the honorary editor of the monthly journal, the Irish Countrywoman, from its launch in 1964 until 1968. She was the ICA representative to the Associated Countrywomen of the World and was elected a member of its publicity and publications and ‘countrywoman’ committees. At the 1965 triennial conference in Dublin she looked after the publicity.
She was suffering from cancer when in 1968 she was convenor and principal speaker at the open forum, ‘Learning to live – the individual’, at the twelfth triennial conference at Michigan State University. At this conference she acquitted her country, her organisation and herself with dignity and success. Her plea was for the things that were the tenets of her faith in life, education, understanding, help and self-help and better communications. Publicity and communications within the ICA were among her chief interests and the communications courses she directed were an annual and highly popular feature of the An Grianán programme. She was particularly concerned with the establishment of simple and clear lines of communication in Irish life and this was shown in her journalism and her work for the ICA. She was involved in consumer education through courses dealing with reporting, magazine and short story-writing, and radio and television. She represented the ICA on the women's advisory committee of the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards and the Foras Éireann correspondence courses, which she organised.
She was well known as a judge at shows, was a broadcaster with Cork local radio, had a Saturday ‘spot’ on the Goulding sponsored RTÉ programme and devoted much of her time to lecturing, especially in UCC adult education. Between 1951 and 1953, she was the lecturer for the first of the UCC outreach courses on foods and nutrition, and arts and crafts, held for rural women at Coachford, Co. Cork. From 1953 to 1955, she lectured on the same subjects at Midleton, Co. Cork, and she continued to lecture at various centres throughout Munster and at UCC from 1955 to 1969. She married Anthony Bernard Curtis, a district court clerk, in Bagenalstown, in 1943. They had three children, Donal, Siobhán and Susan.
Curtis died at her residence Parknasilla, College Road, Cork, 23 March 1971, after a long illness. In recognition of her contribution, the ICA set up a Maeve Curtis bursary to provide a scholarship in communication courses at An Grianán.