He retired as head of the School of Humanities at Waterford Institute of Technology in 2009 and now divides his time between Waterford and Westmeath. He is a graduate of University College Cork and University College Dublin. He won the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award in 1975, the Listowel Open Poetry Competition eleven times, and the Irish American Cultural Institute Award in 1996. He has been editor of Poetry Ireland Review and served on the board of Poetry Ireland for eleven years. From 2003 to 2007, he co-edited three anthologies of Canadian - Irish Poetry. In 2008, Memorial University awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in Laws for fostering links between Ireland and Newfoundland, and for his poetry. In the '90s, Seamus Heaney chose him as Ireland's most undeservedly neglected poet.
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