She attended the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin where she made her non-professional stage debut in the school's 1993 production of Colin Teevan's Tear up The Black Sail. Her professional stage debut was in 1994's True Lines, directed by John Crowley and devised alongside the director by McElveen, Stuart Townsend, Cathy Belton and Tom Murphy.
True Lines received critical acclaim, including from noted Irish theatre critic, Fintan O'Toole, and went on to win the Stewart Parker Award. True Lines was first performed in Kilkenny; it later moved to the Dublin Theatre Festival and on to the Bush Theatre in London.
McElveen became well known in the 1990s from her Irish stage work:
- Ophelia in Second Age's Hamlet
- Lucy Manet at the Gate Theatre
- Eileen in Billy Roche's Poor Beast in The Rain, directed by Garry Hynes for Druid Theatre Company
- Angelica in Rimini Riddle at the Cork Opera House
- Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream at Hampton Court Palace
Returning to acting, McElveen retrained at Bow Street Academy. Shortly afterwards, Maureen Hughes, casting director, cast her as Catherine Finnegan in RTÉ's second series of Striking Out. McElveen was cast in Mary McGuckian's feature film "A Girl from Mogadishu" which was filmed in Dublin. It is based on the life of Ifrah Ahmed. McElveen will play 'Garda Niamh O'Donoughue' in "Doing Money" written by Gwyneth Hughes for BBC 2 Television. Based on a true story, the 90 minute film will be the flagship of “Why Slavery?”, an international season of programmes scheduled for BBC in October 2018 to tie in with International Anti-Slavery Day. McElveen went on to play Tobis in the new Syfy series Nightflyers set for release in America in September 2018.
- Nightflyers, Bronte Carmichael, Phillip Rhys, Miranda Raison, retrieved 2018-07-31
- "Alumni - Gaiety School of Acting". Gaiety School Of Acting. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
- "Plays: True Lines". www.irishplayography.com. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
- McCormack, Christopher (2018-07-16). "25 best Irish plays since Dancing at Lughnasa". Christopher McCormack. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
- O'Toole, Fintan (2003). Critical Moments: Fintan O'Toole on Modern Irish Theatre. Peter Lang. ISBN 9781904505037.
- "London's Irish stage". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
- "Rimini Riddle". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
- "A Midsummer Night's Dream review at Hampton Court Palace | Review | Theatre | The Stage". The Stage. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
- "Penumbra + Q&A". archive.ica.art. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
- Film, British Council. "British Council Film: Penumbra". film.britishcouncil.org. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
- A Girl from Mogadishu (2018), retrieved 2018-07-31
- Miller, Lynsey, Doing Money, Karen Hassan, Alec Secareanu, Jonathan Harden, retrieved 2018-08-01
- Playography Ireland
- British Council: Penumbra
- Tod Tinkham Interview with Gywnne McElveen re: Penumbra Documentry
- Penumbra at the Raindance Festival
- Bow Street
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