I was born in Ballina, Co. Mayo, Ireland in 1961, but I spent much of my life away, in other parts of Ireland, the U.K., America and Europe. I've had a very varied career: in fact I’ve had more than forty jobs in my life. In my younger years I was incredibly restless. I left home at sixteen and spread my wings. I hitch-hiked throughout Europe at seventeen and ended up penniless in Paris. I was homeless for a time after this and eventually stowed away on a ship back to Ireland. I was homeless in Dublin until picking up work and sorting myself out. I’m a survivor. I’ve been a barman, a potato picker, a black-jack dealer at a casino in New York, a soldier in Óglaigh na hÉireann, the official army of the government of Ireland, a newspaper reporter both in Ireland and the UK, a nurse’s assistant in a major hospital, an airline baggage handler, a construction worker, security man, book seller, shop assistant, cleaner, station foreman with London Underground, market stall holder, waiter, night porter, and lastly, civil servant for thirteen years with the Irish police, An Garda Síochána. Phew.
Having left formal education at sixteen without any qualifications, I always felt I had missed out. In 1999 I returned to education as a mature student, completing a B.A in History and Sociology at the University of Ireland at Maynooth. I subsequently completed an M.Phil in Creative Writing at Trinity College, Dublin, graduating with a First. I took this as a validation of my writing. Like most writers, I suffer from chronic self doubt.
Just when I thought that there was no saving me, when I thought I was a confirmed bachelor, I met and married Eileen. We have one beautiful daughter, Sarah, who is now ten years old. I’m no longer restless. Hallelujah.
I’ve always written: books, short stories, novellas, you name it. The vast, vast majority of which have never seen the light of day. I’ve had short stories published in anthologies and newspapers and magazines, and that was great. But I always wanted to have a book published. Once, I sent a manuscript to a leading publisher here in Ireland and it was returned to me the following week - I suspect it wasn’t even read. But I persevered, and persevered, and, following many false starts, finally I got my chance with Bookouture. That said, I know there are a lot of dead poets in the graveyard. I’ve met some brilliant writers, and indeed artists, but they’ve gone unnoticed. For a variety of reasons. There’s a lot of luck involved, and my luck came about in a strange way. Let me explain.
I was on a family holiday in Spain in October 2014 when I took ill with what I thought was flu. Gradually over three days my conditioned worsened until eventually I was admitted to hospital in Tarragona. I was there for three months and my organs began to shut down and I almost died. I returned home to Ireland and was in and out of hospital for two years. I was even transferred to a specialist unit in London. But no one could find the cause of my illness. The doctors’ call me the Mystery Man. But I’d rather not be. I’ve much improved and can lead a normal life now, but I will never fully return to how I once was. But it was during this illness, when the initial severe symptoms subsided, that I began to write again in earnest. Indeed it was all that kept me from falling into a black pit of depression. I wrote (and read) more than I have ever done in my life. And out of this period came my first published novel. As the saying goes, it truly is darkest before the dawn.