Meghen, Patrick Joseph (1900–71), civil servant, was born 1 July 1900 at Millmount Terrace, Drumcondra, Dublin, elder son among two sons and two daughters of Christopher Meghen, postal official, and Hannah Meghen (née Barry). He was educated at O'Connell CBS, North Richmond St., before entering UCD (1917) with an entrance scholarship in mathematics; he graduated with degrees in science and engineering (1921). Although he became involved with the Volunteer movement while at UCD, he was not active in the war of independence until 1921, when he joined the underground Dáil Éireann department of local government as a clerk. In 1922 he transferred to the new Free State Department of Local Government and Public Health as an engineering inspector.
His first direct experience of local government administration came in 1924 when he was appointed temporary commissioner of Tipperary urban district council (UDC) after the minister had dissolved it for financial mismanagement. His success in quickly returning the town's finances to normal brought him to the attention of the minister, James A. Burke (qv), who regularly sent him as a commissioner to town councils and county councils that were experiencing difficulties. In 1926 he was transferred to Co. Clare when Ennis UDC was dissolved for ‘financial imbecility’. Commissioners appointed by the minister were generally unpopular but Meghen's efficiency, during a three-year term in which he extended the town's housing and sanitation facilities while reducing rates, meant that the UDC refused to reform in an attempt to retain his services. Richard Mulcahy (qv), minister for local government and public health (1927–32), was forced to push special legislation (the 1929 Ennis UDC dissolution bill) through the dáil to extend his term.
In the 1930s Meghen went on to act as a commissioner in several other towns including Bray, Howth, Wicklow, and Kilkenny, and his consistent ability to improve local services while saving money demonstrated the efficacy of bringing professional management into local government. The success of temporary commissioners, exemplified by Meghen, was an important reason behind the introduction of the 1940 county management act, which removed much of the power of elected councillors over local administration. After a two-year period as emergency commissioner of Co. Tipperary, he was appointed as the first county manager of Limerick. His period as manager of the county (1942–61) was characterised by an emphasis on long-term planning and fiscal responsibility, which often brought him into conflict with councillors eager for rapid change. His management style, administrative competence, and dedication to local improvement, however, ensured that relations between administrators and elected councillors never became too strained. In addition to his duties in Limerick, he was dedicated to the study and improvement of public administration in general and was instrumental in the setting up of the County Managers' Association (later renamed the City and County Managers' Association) and was its third chairman in 1953–4. He was also a driving force behind the establishment of the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) which was designed to encourage research into local and national administration.
In 1961 he left his post in Limerick to become director of studies with the IPA. He wrote extensively on local government issues and public administration: his works include Local government: a guide for the citizen (1959), A short history of the public service (1962), Housing in Ireland (1963), Statistics in Ireland (1963), and Roads in Ireland (1966). He was also an active member of the rural organisation Muintir na Tire and served as its vice-president 1945–70. His experience of the problems facing rural Ireland led to his appointment to the commission on emigration and other population problems in 1948. A keen local historian, he published several articles in North Munster Studies as well as contributing a long essay on the social history of Limerick to The Limerick rural survey 1958–64 (1964), published by Muintir na Tire. He died 16 September 1971 after a long illness, and was buried at St Lawrence's cemetery, Limerick.
He married (3 November 1926) Helena O'Hegarty from Dublin; they had one son, Michael, and lived at Hollybank, O'Connell Avenue, Limerick.