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McCaffrey was born in Dublin, Ireland, and teaches Irish history and Irish literature at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. She is also a frequent lecturer at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. She founded and edited the literary review Wild About Wilde (1986–96) dedicated to the works of the 19th-century Irish writer, Oscar Wilde. She was the series historical consultant for the three part PBS/RTÉ program In Search of Ancient Ireland (2002) and co-author of the book of the same title. This TV series, like the book, presents the history of Ireland from neolithic times to the English invasion of the 12th century. McCaffrey is also the author of the book In Search of Ireland's Heroes: The Story of the Irish from the English Invasion to the Present Day (2006).
- "In Search of Ancient Ireland . About the Film | PBS". Archived from the original on 2002-06-28. Retrieved 2016-02-05.
- "Books by Carmel McCaffrey". books-by-isbn.com. Retrieved 2016-02-05.