Jane O'Leary (née Strong) was born in Hartford, Connecticut. She graduated summa com laude from Vassar College and studied with Milton Babbitt at Princeton University, where she received a Ph.D. in composition. She lectured at Swarthmore College for a year and moved to Ireland in 1972, where she became a resident of Galway.
O'Leary's music has been performed internationally at concert venues including, in the U.S., the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Center, Chicago Cultural Center and Carnegie Hall. She is the founder (in 1976), artistic director and pianist of the ensemble Concorde, which regularly performs contemporary music. In 1981, she was one of the founders of the organisation 'Music for Galway' and served as its chairperson from 1984 to 1992. Other honorary positions included membership of the Board of Directors of the National Concert Hall, Dublin (1986–1996), member of the Irish Arts Council (1998–2003), chairperson of the Contemporary Music Centre, Dublin, and others. Since 1981 she has been a member of Aosdána, Ireland's academy for creative artists. Since 2006, O'Leary teaches composition at the Dublin Institute of Technology Conservatory of Music and Drama in Dublin. She received the Marten Toonder Award in 1994 and received an honorary doctorate from the National University of Ireland in 2007.
- Silenzio della Terra, performed by Concorde, on: Contemporary Music from Ireland Vol. 1, Contemporary Music Centre CMC CD01 (CD, 1995).
- Silenzio della Terra, Duo, performed by Concorde, on: Celtic Connections, Capstone Records CPS-8640 (CD, 1997).
- Four Pieces for Guitar, performed by John Feeley, on: e-motion, Black Box Music BBM 1002 (CD, 2008).
- Cartoline dalla Sicilia, performed by Catherine Nardiello (piano), on: Women Composers Vol. I, Catherine Nardiello CN-115 (CD, 2000).
- Within/Without, performed by Paul Roe (clarinet), on: Containers (Galway Arts Festival 2000) (CD, 2000).
- Mystic Play of Shadows, performed by Quartetto Paul Klee, on: Niccolò NIC 1047 (CD, 2001).
- Piano Quartet; a piacere ...; Why the Hill Sings; In the Stillness of Time; something there; Mystic Play of Shadows, performed by ConTempo Quartet, Vanbrugh Quartet, Jane O'Leary (piano), members of Concorde, on: In the Stillness of Time: Music of Jane O'Leary, Capstone Records CPS-8789 (CD, 2007)
- Forgotten Worlds, performed by Isabelle O'Connell (piano), on: Reservoir, Diatribe Solo Series DIACDSOL 001 (CD, 2010).
- a piacere ..., performed by Paul Roe (clarinet), on: Between, Diatribe Solo Series DIACDSOL 002 (CD, 2010).
- Duo, performed by Laura Chislett Jones (flute) and John Feeley (guitar), on: Islands. Contemporary Irish Solo & Instrumental Works for Guitar, Overture Music (no label code) (CD, 2010).
- Reflections II, performed by Concorde, on: Reflections, Navona Records NV 5835 (CD, 2010).
- Forgotten Worlds, performed by Hugh Tinney, on: RTÉ lyric fm CD 153 (CD, 2016).
- A Way Through; No. 19; Murmurs and Echoes; A Winter Sketchbook; ... from hand to hand ...; The Passing Sound of Forever, performed by Andreja Malir (hp), Concorde, RTÉ ConTempo Quartet, on: Navona Records NV 6068 (CD, 2017).
- Axel Klein: Die Musik Irlands im 20. Jahrhundert (Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, 1996)
- Benjamin Dwyer: "An Interview with Jane O'Leary", in: B. Dwyer: Different Voices. Irish Music and Music in Ireland (Hofheim: Wolke Verlag, 2014), p. 112–132.
- Byrne, James Patrick; Coleman, Philip; King, Jason (2008). Ireland and the Americas: culture, politics, and history, Volume 3. ISBN 9781851096145. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
- "Jane O'Leary". Retrieved 17 October 2010.