The eldest of a large family, born on a medium-sized farm in Tulsk, Co. Roscommon. He received his early education in the local national schools, Bishop Hodson’s Grammar School, Elphin and Roscommon C.B.S. After graduating in agricultural science from UCG and UCD in 1958, he was appointed a Research Officer in An Foras Talútais. During the course of his career in soil science he was awarded an M. Sc. by Ghent University and a Ph. D. by Trinity College, Dublin, where he studied under the guidance of Prof. Frank Mitchell. He has published many books on the soil of various counties in Ireland and numerous scientific papers in Irish, British and European journals including seminal studies on the properties and genesis of iron pan podzols and plaggen soils in Ireland. As a result of his large volume of publications and his standing as a soil scientist, Michael was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Soil Scientists (UK) in 1990.