Desmond MacHale was educated at University College, Galway where he graduated with an M.Sc. degree in Mathematics in 1968. He took a Ph.D. in Group Theory at the University of Keele in the UK and spent nearly forty years lecturing in Mathematics at University College Cork. He retired as Associate Professor of Mathematics in 2011 and now devotes his time to research in abstract algebra including Boolean rings.
In 1985 he wrote the first full-length biography of Boole, reissued as The Life and Work of George Boole--a Prelude to the Digital Age, published by Cork University Press in 2014. He has lectured and published widely in Ireland and abroad on Boole's life and work, as well as appearing on numerous radio and television programmes. He is currently working with former student Yvonne Cohen on a sequel New Light on George Boole.
Professor MacHale has written over sixty books on topics such as Puzzles, Recreational Mathematics, Jokes and Humour, Quotations, John Ford's film The Quiet Man, and Lateral Thinking.