Born in the Irish Republic, son of an Irish Presbyterian working-class father and an English evangelical middle-class mother; raised mostly in England; served ten years in the British army (1 R. ANGLIAN for the most part), later worked as a motorcycle courier and motorcycle mechanic (specialising in Harley-Davidsons) in England.
On returning to Ireland in 1996, I worked as a motorcycle courier in Dublin before moving to Sligo where I worked as a guide for the Irish Heritage Service. In 2001 I moved to Belfast to do a BA in Ethnomusicology & Social Anthropology at Queen's University. During this period I started to research the Ulster marching band tradition and the Ulster-Scots musical revival, learning to play the flute as part of my research. I then commenced a PhD in Ethnomusicology, focusing on the marching band tradition, which I completed in 2009. During this period, I played in the part-music band, Ballyclare Victoria, the melody band, Sir George White Memorial (Broughshane) and the Jig-style Blood & Thunder band, the Ballykeel Loyal Sons of Ulster (Ballymena). I am still a member of Sir George White Memorial Flute Band and also play Ulster-Scots and Irish traditional music.
I am currently living in north Belfast, teaching Anthropology at Queen's, sailing with the cross-community Causeway Coast Maritime Heritage Group whenever I get the chance, playing the flute with my band or with anyone who will let me, writing for 'The Ulster Folk' (as well as writing academic papers), and rebuilding my Norton Commando 750.