Born in and raised in Ireland, Eleanor has identified as a writer since the age of twelve. Her formative influences include the Irish landscape, the children’s writer Patricia Lynch, whose books blend Irish rural life and fantasy, and Rosemary Sutcliff’s retelling of myth and legend. She dates her love of history from primary school, when the teacher read to the class from the funnier extracts of Brehon Law, almost incoherent with laughter: “The poet who overcharges for a poem shall be stripped of half his rank in society”. Along with more than half of the pupils in that class, Eleanor went on to study history at Trinity College Dublin. She won the Irish Schools Creative Writing competition for poetry in 1984 and for fiction in 1985.
Early employment included working as a picture framer in Jerusalem, a propaganda writer for the Tibetan Government in Exile in Dharamsala, and a library worker in Dundee. She kept on writing and, in 1995, won the Hennessy Literary Award for her short story, Daniel in Babylon.
In 1998, with a young family, she returned to Dublin and set up business as a freelance journalist. For five years, she wrote a weekly interior design column with the Sunday Times. Through this, she developed an interest in craft and craftspeople. Between 2009 and 2012 she completed a PhD, an oral history of craft in late twentieth century Ireland.
Now, she writes two weekly columns for the Irish Independent: one on interior design and the other on antiques; a quarterly design column for the Irish Arts Review; and is one of the radio journalists for Culture File on RTE Lyric FM. She is a founding editor of the online journal of innovative craft writing, makebelieve.ie, the voice of the People’s Front for the Liberation of Craft.
Eleanor lives in Dublin with her husband, sons, a rescue greyhound, a retired racehorse, and a racing pigeon who couldn’t find the way home.