George Furlong was born in Dundrum, County Tipperary and educated at Clongowes Wood and University College Dublin. He continued his studies at Grenoble, Munich and Vienna where he was awarded the PhD for his dissertation on 10th and 11th century Anglo-Saxon manuscript illumination. In 1930 he became an Assistant Keeper at the National Gallery, London and in 1935 was appointed Director of the National Gallery in Dublin. He remained in this position for fifteen years during which he also lectured and published on matters relating to the arts and acted as examiner in the history of European painting at both Trinity College and University College Dublin. He moved back to London in 1950.