Jim was elected to the Dail for the Cork South-West Constituency at the 2011 General Election. He was first elected to Cork County Council in 2004 and was re-elected in 2009, topping the poll in the Skibbereen electoral area. He was also elected Mayor of County Cork in 2010. A native of Drinagh, Co. Cork, Jim is one of eleven children. He is married to Virge and father to four sons.
A qualified primary school teacher, Jim was principal of the Gaelscoil in Skibbereen from 2002 to 2005 and has a particular interest in special needs education.