Poet and novelist who became one of the most respected Irish writers of his era with poetry collections like 1987's The Irish for No and novels like 1999's Fishing for Amber. He was the recipient of many coveted honors, including the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Forward Poetry Prize.
He studied English at Queen's University, Belfast and began serving as the Traditional Arts Officer of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
In addition to his poetry and prose, he was the author of books like Last Night's Fun: About Time, Food and Music, which examines the traditional Irish music scene.
He married acclaimed fiddle player Deirdre Shannon and had three children.
He had cited fellow Irish poet and dramatist Louis MacNeice as a key influence on his work.