Howard was born in 1945 in Wales of a Scottish mother and an Irish father, the middle of three brothers. He was raised in a number of towns in the North of England and studied medicine at Manchester University. From childhood he had a keen interest in nature especially birds and insects, which was clearly evident in his later life as a Druid.
Howard met his first wife Dorothy at university and and they had five children together. Howard worked as a GP in Scotland for 17 years and when he was in his mid-forties he studied psychiatry and came to Kilkenny in 1994 as a consultant to set up the Child and Family Consultation Service, during which time he was a vocal critic of the HSE’s policies on mental health. After his first wife’s death Howard and Eimear met, married and had two children together.
At the age of 61 he retired and enjoyed time in nature and with his family and friends. Together with his wife Eimear they formed Kilkenny Druidry College in 2011, creating An Craobh Airgid (The Silver Branch) study course and Cuallacht De Danaan (Fellowship of Dana) to celebrate publicly the 8 seasonal druidic festivals.
I was lucky enough to know Howard personally, although I could so easily have missed out. The first time I saw him was at a Fellowship of Isis gathering, at which he spent most of his time seated, quietly observing the proceedings. He spoke little and with brevity but what he did say was pithy and to the point. It didn’t take me long to realize that he was something of a Stoic philosopher once I made the effort to sit down next to him and begin a conversation.
We discovered a mutual love of both Ireland and Scotland, nature, literature, spirituality and in particular, poetry. Howard was immensely wise, in a quiet, self-contained and totally non-egotistical fashion. He was highly knowledgeable and skilled in a multitude of areas, a veritable Lugh of many skills – cook, doctor, psychiatrist, druid, handyman, fire-keeper, naturalist, teacher, shaman, poet, philosopher, joker, husband, father and friend to many. However Howard shied away from attention and preferred contemplation to idle verbosity.
Despite his shyness and quiet and grounded ways he had quite a wicked sense of humour and his quick wits could be relied upon to raise a laugh at unexpected moments. His intelligence, good nature and humour is something I will miss greatly now that he has passed over.
Howard lived with and accepted with cancer, making a spirited attempt to ring the last drops of good from his remaining time on all levels. He knew his time was limited, however he was dignified and accepting in embracing the final journey of his life, towards the otherworld. In the final weeks of his life he succeeded in completing and overseeing the production of two literary works – ‘Darkness Shades So Light Can Be’ and ‘On The Trail Of Love’, both of which capture much of the sagacity, laughter, saddness, love of nature and love of life itself, that typified Howard.