Born in 1953, he spent his early childhood on Achill Island, Co Mayo. He was educated at University College Dublin, subsequently studying composition with Gerald Bennett, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and the late Isang Yun. His work has been represented at numerous international festivals including "L'Imaginaire Irlandais", the ISCM World Music Days (Mexico City, Manchester, Hong Kong), and Voyages (Montreal). He was artistic director of the first two RTÉ Living Music Festivals (2002, 2004). He was awarded the degree of Doctor of Music by NUI Maynooth in November 2004. He is also a published novelist and essayist, and a political activist. He divides his time between Ireland, France, and southern Germany.
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