Frank McGuinnes was born on July 29, 1953, in Buncrana, Donegal, Ireland. He attended the National University of Ireland, University College, in Dublin, receiving BA and M.Phil in medieval studies. He began writing poetry in 1974, and from 1977 until 1979 taught linguistics and drama at the University of Ulster, Corelaine, Northern Ireland. He lectured in Old and Middle English at the University College, Dublin, 1979-1980, then moved to St. Patrick's College in Maynooth, where he lectures in English to this day.
McGuinness has been awarded the London Evening Standard's Most Promising Playwright Award in 1985 for Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme; Harvey's Award; the Ewart-Bigg's Peace Prize, the Irish-American Literary Prize in 1992; a Fringe First Award; and an Antoinette Perry Award nomination for Best Play for 1993 for Someone Who'll Watch Over Me