Ollie's family roots are in Ballinasloe and Knock; but he grew up in Carlow where his father was an accountant with the Sugar Factory. Ollie's heart was always in the west, and he came here in the 1970s to enroll in UCG. There he founded the legendary folk club Smokey Joe's, which featured good cheap food and great cheap music from all the leading folk and rock acts of the seventies and eighties. He branched out into the city: with a committee of town and gown friends he founded the Galway Arts Festival. Ollie moved to Dublin, briefly, to complete a qualification in arts administration, before returning to Galway in the 1980s to work with Druid on their groundbreaking Unusual Rural Tours, to resume the reins of the Arts Festival and to cofound Macnas.