PHYSICIAN Tony Holohan, the steady hand at the tiller as chief medical officer with the Department of Health in the current Covid-19 crisis, has strong family connections with Carlow town and the Carlow/Kilkenny border area.
He felt unwell during last Tuesday’s TV broadcast and was later admitted to St James’s Hospital. He underwent some tests not related to Covid-19 and was back at work by Thursday.
The Holohan family hails from Coon, Co Kilkenny, just over the county boundary with Carlow. The late Bob Holohan, Tony’s uncle, who lived on Tullow Road, Carlow, was a highly regarded woodwork teacher with Carlow Vocational School (VEC) when it was located at the town’s Dublin Street. Bob’s late wife, the former Kathleen Darcy, was from Coon East.
Dr Holohan is a first cousin of Carlow County Council chief executive Kathleen Holohan.
The father of two was born in Dublin and educated at secondary level in Sexton Street CBS in Limerick after his garda father Liam was transferred from Garda Headquarters in the Phoenix Park on promotion as sergeant to the Treaty City in 1975, serving in the city’s Henry Street station.
The 52-year-old physician, one of six children, is a 1991 medical graduate of University College, Dublin. After training in general practice, he also trained in public health medicine. He was appointed deputy medical officer with the Department of Health in 2001 and promoted to chief medical officer in December 2008.
He is regarded as a leader in the field of evidence-based public health medicine in Ireland.
Dr Holohan has worked in the areas of policy development in cancer control, primary care and health information.
As the most senior government adviser on health, Dr Holohan holds a key role in the country’s health policy and helps to guide the government’s response to medical and health crises.
In September 2019, I interviewed his father Liam for the Carlow Town Hurling Club book ***50 years of hurling***. Liam, who retired as a garda sergeant in 1990, resides at Maiden Hill, Kells Road in Kilkenny city with his wife, the former Brigid Ryan from Cappamore, Co Limerick.
Liam completed his secondary education at Carlow CBS, having earlier been a student at St Kieran’s College, Kilkenny. He played minor hurling for Carlow in 1956 and ’57 and lined out at junior level with The Pearses in Carlow town, forerunner of Carlow Town Hurling Club. He returned to his roots in 1967 when lining out with Coon in the Kilkenny junior championship.
Among his GAA collection are two medals won with the Pearses in 1957, when the under-18 side from the county town claimed the Carlow county championship and league double.
Liam Holohan, who celebrated his 81st birthday last Thursday, 4 April, was the youngest of 11 children and has three surviving siblings – Tom (Tullow), Paddy (Callan) and Sarah Hearns, who lives in Dublin.
Bob and Kathleen Holohan had nine children – Willie (Kilkenny), Paddy (Carlow), Eddie (Kilkenny), Ann Burke, Dick, Mary Walsh, Kathleen Holohan, Norah Holohan and Gerard (all Carlow).