Besides drawing on his Gaelic traditions, MacNeacail is influenced by the Black Mountain School of the USA. He has held writing fellowships in Scotland, including residences at the Gaelic college of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, and reads his work at festivals around the world. He has collaborated with musicians and visual artists, and written drama.
MacNeacail won the Stakis Prize for Scottish Writer of the Year with his third collection, Oideachadh Ceart ('A Proper Schooling and other poems'), in 1997. His most recent collection Laoidh an Donais òig ('hymn to a young demon') was published by Polygon in 2007. His partner is the actor and writer Gerda Stevenson.