By Suzanne Pender
IT’S not often that members of Carlow County Council are rendered speechless, but chief executive Kathleen Holohan managed just that with her recent announcement that she is to end her term at the helm. At the May meeting of Carlow County Council, Ms Holohan announced her intention not to extend her term as council chief executive, ending her tenure in the top job this October.
“I am not exercising the option to extend my contract by three years; I will therefore complete my term in October this year,” said Ms Holohan.
“It was a difficult decision, but I believe it is the right decision for me at this time,” she added.
Cathaoirleach cllr Fintan Phelan thanked the chief executive for her service, adding that her leaving after seven years would be a “huge loss to the council and the county”. He praised the “pivotal role” Ms Holohan had played in securing URDF funding for Carlow and the establishment of SETU, the new technological university.
Cllr Brian O’Donoghue admitted that he was in “huge shock”, before asking the cheeky question: “Is the lady for turning?” Cllr O’Donoghue described Ms Holohan as a “rock of sense”, a person who was adamant in “doing the right thing at all costs”.
Cllr John Pender also admitted he was “taken aback by the announcement” and thanked Kathleen for her contribution to Carlow. “She was history-making as the first woman to take the role of chief executive in Carlow and the first Carlow person to have the role.”
Cllr Willie Quinn remarked that Ms Holohan “always had a soft spot for Borris”, while cllr Arthur McDonald also thanked her for her service to Carlow and the Muinebheag area.
Cllr Michael Doran was also “taken aback” and complimented Ms Holohan on her tenure. “We have also created a fantastic team of directors,” he said.
Cllr Charlie Murphy also wished her well with her future endeavours, while cllr Fergal Browne added that “you leave the organisation in better shape than what you found it”.
Cllr John Murphy referred to Ms Holohan’s ill health during the early years of her role and congratulated her on her return to good health, while cllr Tommy Kinsella quipped that it “must be a weight off your shoulders getting away from us”.
Cllrs Andy Gladney, John McDonald and Tom O’Neill also offered their best wishes and thanked Ms Holohan for her advice and support.
Cllr Ken Murnane wished her the best in “whatever you decide to do”, while cllr Andrea Dalton added that it was “great to see a woman at the top. You have to see her to be her, and you have inspired others to the highest role in the county”.
Cllr Adrienne Wallace admitted that while she has “butted heads with the executive” on occasion, she had no doubt that Ms Holohan had worked to the best of her ability and inspired other women to seek high office.
Cllr William Paton remarked that it “couldn’t have been an easy decision to make” but he was certain that whatever choice Ms Holohan made for her future, “you will be brilliant at it, even if it is retirement … you deserve it”.