Patrick Loughrey was born in 1955 and grew up in County Donegal in the townland of Ray (pronounced as 'Rai'), on the shores of Lough Swilly. He attended Loreto College in Milford, and went on to study at the University of Ulster (BA Hons Contemporary History), The Queen's University of Belfast (MA History) and Trent University, Ontario (Doctoral Research Fellowship in 1977).
He began his career as a teacher from 1978-84. He became a freelance broadcaster for UTV, BBC and RTÉ before joining the BBC as an education producer in 1984. In 1988 he was appointed Head of Educational Broadcasting, BBC Northern Ireland. Loughrey was appointed Director, Nations and Regions, in May 2000. Holding overall responsibility for the BBC's television, radio and online programmes and services in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the 12 English Regions. In December 2009, Loughrey left his post after 25 years service in the BBC.
In early 2010 he became Warden of Goldsmiths, University of London.