O'Meara, Kathleen (1839–88), novelist and biographer, was born in Dublin, the daughter of Den[n]is O'Meara of Tipperary. When she was about five, she moved with her parents to France, where they had connections: a grandfather, Barry Edward O'Meara (qv), naval surgeon, was private doctor to Napoleon on St Helena and published the popular Napoleon in exile (1822). It is said that under the second empire Kathleen's mother received a pension because she was a kinswoman of Barry O'Meara. Settling in Paris, Kathleen became an author, for about the first ten years writing under the name ‘Grace Ramsay '. Initially published in the Irish Monthly (‘A woman's trials’ (1867)) – in which she published throughout her career – she also wrote for such American periodicals as the Atlantic Monthly, Ave Maria, and Harper's Monthly. Her earliest works were novels, in which genre she continued to publish all her life; only one of her novels, The battle of Connemara (1878), was set in Ireland, and she had some concerns about its authenticity.
In the 1870s she took up biography, especially of Roman catholic religious figures, writing such works as Life of Thomas Grant, first bishop of Southwark (1874), The Venerable Jean Baptiste Vianney, curé d'Ars (1891), and the series Bells of the sanctuary. Some of her ‘biographies’ were of fictional subjects. Madame Mohl . . . a study of social life in Paris (1885) proved very popular, and was the only one of her works translated into French (1886). O'Meara was for many years Paris correspondent of the catholic newspaper, The Tablet. She wrote solely in English, although one of her works was a translation (Henri Perreyve and his counsels to the sick . . . (1880), from Perreyve's Journée des malades). Altogether she published some six novels and nine biographies in London, Edinburgh, New York, and Boston. While she was not initially successful, some of her titles eventually ran into several editions. She visited England and Italy in 1876, and America in 1886, towards the end of her short life; there is no record of her having returned to Ireland. In 1878 she was living at 15 Rue de Billault, and in 1888 at 15 Rue Washington when her mother, to whom she was very close, died (14 December). Kathleen O'Meara died of pneumonia on 10 November 1888 in Paris. She was survived by a younger sister, G. M. O'Meara, who also lived in Paris.