John English was born and grew up in Wexford town, and is steeped in the tradition of hurling. He joined the civil service and began work for the council in Carlow in 1962. He worked in housing, sanitation, planning and road design. The roads at the time needed a lot of attention and it gave him great satisfaction to see the development of the roads in the county. He worked under six County Managers, and he recalled his colleagues in the council.