Fr James Holloway - a caring and compassionate priest

Shortly before 1am on Christmas Eve morning, Fr. James, who had suffered so much in previous months without complaint, passed from this world. With him at this time was his devoted friend and housekeeper Mary O’Connor, her entire family, Bernie O’Sullivan, accompanied by Fr. Conor Hayes who was a good and loyal friend to Fr. James. One of Fr. Holloway’s greatest wishes in the previous few weeks was his intention to celebrate Mass on Christmas Day in his home, alas it was not to be and to quote Fr. Conor Hayes when he prayed for Fr. Holloway on Christmas morning,’he went home for Christmas’.

Shortly before 1am on Christmas Eve morning, Fr. James, who had suffered so much in previous months without complaint, passed from this world. With him at this time was his devoted friend and housekeeper Mary O’Connor, her entire family, Bernie O’Sullivan, accompanied by Fr. Conor Hayes who was a good and loyal friend to Fr. James. One of Fr. Holloway’s greatest wishes in the previous few weeks was his intention to celebrate Mass on Christmas Day in his home, alas it was not to be and to quote Fr. Conor Hayes when he prayed for Fr. Holloway on Christmas morning,’he went home for Christmas’.

For those who knew and had contact with him over the years there are many and varied words and phrases which would apply to him, he was a man of deep faith, he had boundless empathy and compassion for those with illness and despair, as many will testify he had a healing touch, his endless visits to the sick and those grieving and in need brought comfort and consolation, he possessed a form of wit that would make anyone smile when he so wished.

He was an intelligent man, he held degrees in Sociology and Theology, and he was familiar with trips to the Holy Land and was no stranger to Rome. Let us not forget that he was also a sturborn man, he was authorative and held his own form of sarcasm that was enjoyed by many of us who would love to provoke it along with his half smile and glint in his eye. Above all he was a good man who had demons and faults of his own, but. he was a man of perseverance who battled his demons and kept them at bay.

Any person could not have a better friend. He was a great Parish priest, and a man who gave comfort, compassion, healing and faith to so many in his life, he will be missed and leaves a vacant space in many lives.

His life in brief summary: James Holloway was born in Madamsland, Fethard on March 27, 1935, and played hurling and football for his parish in his youth, his education began in Fethard and continued in Rockwell College. He was ordained to the Priesthood in Maynooth on June 19, 1960 and held a temporary mission in Dublin until 1962. In January ’63 he attained the post of professor at St. Patricks College, and from this he moved to Bursar at St. Patricks in Sept of ’64.

His academic life ended in December of ’73 when he was assigned as Assistant Priest in the parish of Holycross in his native Diocese of Cashel & Emly. He was involved in the restoration of Holycross Abbey and producer of the local Drama Society, and won All Ireland titles for same. April of ’76 brought change when he was transferred as C.C. to the parish of Cappawhite until February of 1980 when he was transferred as C.C. to Bansha parish where he resided until ’88.

The parishioners of both parishes would have many stories to tell. In September of 1988 he crossed the border to become Parish Priest of Pallasgrean & Templebraden, and he served his parishioners well, with dignity and integrity, was so diligent in his visits to those who were sick, bereaved, or in personal crisis from his own parish and beyond, whether at home, or in the hospital or nursing homes.

His management of parish affairs was outstanding, church and school, and all done through normal weekly collections and without a financial burden to the people of his parish. He was actively involved in Community affairs, becoming a Trustee of Pallasgrean Community Council, President of the local GAA clubs and one of the founding members of Grean Drama group.

He had forced retirement on April 13, 2010 but continued his stay in the Parochial House from where he continued his duties as a priest saying Mass in adjoining parishes as the need arose and his visits to those who were sick or in need of his comfort and solace. He also enjoyed visits from his many friends and parishioners at his own residence, and he celebrated his Golden Jubilee Mass in Pallasgreen Community Centre on September of 2010 with a more than capacity congregation.

Unfortunately his health failed at the end of the summer and following two hospital stays he was cared for in his home by his devoted housekeeper Mary and her family as per his wish. He enjoyed many visits from relations, friends, priest colleagues and parishioners, and peacefully left this world on Christmas Eve. It was his wish that as he was christened in St. Michaels Church, Tipperary on April 1, 1935, that he would also repose there, and his Funeral mass was con-celebrated there on Thursday, December 27 by Archdeacon Matthew McGrath, Fr. Conor Hayes and Canon Liam McNamara, with a total attendance of 61 priests, his sister Alice, brother John, housekeeper and friend Mary with her family, his cousins and many friends and parishioners.

In his homily Archdeacon McGrath, who was friend and colleague to Fr. James (Jim) for many years, said that the three words which best described Fr. James in his opinion were Scholarship, Challenge and Stamina and this was so true. His remains left St. Michaels Church with the church yard Guard of Honour by Knockane GAA and parishioners, and travelled to Pallasgreen village where another Guard of Honour by Pallasgreen GAA and friends and parishioners conveyed him to his chosen resting spot at St. Columbas Cemetery where he was laid to rest to the trumpet sound of ‘Nearer My God To Thee’.

Fr. James Holloway will be missed by so many, but he lived his life on his own terms, fought his demons, brought comfort to many, enriched lives and accepted his final time on earth with dignity and foresight. May he rest in peace.

Aine Commons