At Methodist College, Belfast, he discovered his gift for writing and developed an interest in leftist politics. Later, at Trinity College Dublin, he pursued a diploma in Social Studies and found friends in artistic circles. He has had an outstanding career, with poems published in Ireland, England, Scotland, France, and the United States, and several volumes in Ireland.
After his retirement from a career of teaching English as a Foreign Language in London, he was nominated for membership in Aosdána, an association of 220 living artists in Ireland. He was honoured by his peers on his seventieth birthday, 1990, with a commemorative volume of poems. In 1995, he was awarded the Irish Times Poetry Prize for his Collected Poems. He continued to write and to be honoured for his achievements up until his death in 2008.