Michael McDowell lives in Dublin, and is married to Professor Niamh Brennan and they have three sons. He is the youngest grandson of Eoin Mac Néill, a co-founder of Conradh na Gaeilge and the founding President of the Irish Volunteers.
Michael graduated from UCD with a B.A. in Economics, Politics, Jurisprudence and Roman Law in 1972. During his time in UCD, he was a member of the L&H and was auditor of the Law Society. He is currently an Adjunct Professor in the UCD Sutherland School of Law, and his wife Niamh is the Michael MacCormac Professor of Management in the UCD Quinn School of Business.
Michael was elected as a TD for Dublin South East in 1987, 1992 and 2002. He served as Attorney General from 1999 to 2002, as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform from 2002 until 2007, and as Tánaiste from 2006 until 2007.