Karen J. McDonnell grew up in Ennis. She spent many years in Dublin working in international banking and as an actress before returning to live in the Burren in north Clare. As a mature student at NUI Galway, she focused increasingly on writing, including Notes from the Margins, a poetic song cycle about women on the edges of history, and literary non-fiction: Unsettled — a West Bank Journal. She won the 2014 WOW Poetry Award and was runner up in the 2015 Wild Atlantic Words and the 2015 Baffle poetry competitions. She was shortlisted for the 2017 Poems for Patience Award.