Bishop John Buckley was born in Inchigeela (Uibh Laoire parish) in West Cork. He studied for the priesthood at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth and was ordained in 1965. He taught on the staff of St. Finbarr’s College, Farranferris, until he became its President in 1975. He worked for one year as parish priest of Turner’s Cross Parish, Cork. He was ordained Titular Bishop of Leptis Magna and Auxiliary Bishop of Cork and Ross in 1984. On Friday 19th December, 1997, the Holy See announced the appointment of Bishop John Buckley as Bishop of Cork and Ross. Bishop Buckley was the Diocesan Administrator since the death of Bishop Michael Murphy in October 1996.
Bishop Buckley was installed as Bishop of Cork and Ross at the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Anne, Cork, on February 8th, 1998, at 3 pm.
On November 2nd, 2014, Bishop Buckley reached the age at which serving diocesan bishops are required by Church law to submit their resignation to the Holy Father.