Charles Egan was born in Nottingham, England, of Irish parents. When he was five, the family returned to Ireland, as his father had been appointed Resident Medical Superintendent of St. Luke's, a psychiatric hospital in Clonmel, in County Tipperary. Every summer they visited his father's family's farm, outside Kiltimagh in County Mayo for a month, where his grandmother and uncles spent many evenings, talking about family and local history. The family subsequently moved to County Wicklow, where he initially attended the De La Salle Brothers School in Wicklow town. He then went to the Jesuits' Clongowes Wood College (James Joyce's alma mater), and subsequently studied Commerce in University College Dublin, graduating in 1973. After an initial career in the private sector, including Marubeni Dublin, (where he met his future wife, Carmel), he joined the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) in Dublin. After a few years, the desire to be his own boss, led him to resign and set up his own business, which ran for 30 years. Apart from business, his main interests are history, film and worldwide travel.