Tom Cleary grew up in County Tipperary. He studied English and Irish at University College Dublin, and taught English for thirty years in secondary schools in London, Manchester and Leeds, acting as General Secretary of the Leeds branch of the NUT for his last 6 years as a teacher. He retired early, and studied for a degree in Spanish and Russian at Bradford.
He and his partner then lived for three years in Gandesa near Tarragona, teaching English. They fell in love with inland Spain, its language and culture, its food and wine and wild countryside and its exciting and friendly people. They watched birds on the Ebro Delta and observed the rise and rise of Barça in noisy sociedad bars. They now live in Hebden Bridge. For two summers they helped to organise The World on your Doorstep music festival in the town’s park. Tom needed to reclaim his life, though, and when he did, he began to write poetry.
In 2011 he won the Writers Forum/HappenStance Competition and in January 2014 he was featured poet in Orbis 166. The WF/HappenStance prize was to have been the publication of a sampler. But there were too many good poems. These resulted in a pamphlet: The Third Miss Keane.
In 2015, Tom Cleary was a winner of the prestigious Northern Writers' Award, one of six New North poets.
The Third Miss Keane, HappenStance 2014