Tributes paid at funeral of Dr Emer Holohan in Dublin

ireland
Ireland's chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan (centre) stands by the casket of his wife. Photo: PA Images.
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The funeral of Dr Emer Holohan (née Feely) has taken place in Dublin.

The wife of the country’s chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, battled cancer for eight years.

Her father, brother, and children took part in the private funeral at the church of St Pius X in Templeogue.

Dr Tony Holohan paid tribute to his wife, saying she had left a legacy “that can never be destroyed, and a void that will never be filled”.

With his two children by his side, Dr Holohan described Emer as a “loving, caring, warm, witty and sunny person”.

“Emer, this is the day that was always coming, we knew that, we all did,” he said. “After that dreadful day in September 2012, you and I both knew you would leave us before your time, and you have.

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“Your suffering is over. The pain, the anguish and the tears are at an end. We gather in this cruelly constrained way to mark your passing, in word, in prayer and in song.

“This is not going to be a chronology of your life. I think too much of you to try to summarise you in a few short minutes of words for people who may not know you.

“For those who do know you, they don’t need me to set it out.”

Illness

Dr Holohan praised his wife in how she handled her long illness: “Once upon a time, I worried about how you would ever cope with the adversity we met along the way of our lives.

“I thought your soft and sensitive nature might mean you would find some of life’s tests too much for you.

“How little I know,” Dr Holohan added. “You faced the illness without fear or anger.

“Sure, you asked the usual questions about why us and why me, but you didn’t dwell on them. You didn’t let it rule you or define you, no matter how it impacted you.”

She epitomised the word brave

Their daughter Clodagh, who is in college, described her mother as a “ray of sunshine”.

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“Throughout our childhood mom was always there for us,” Clodagh added.

“I remember the day when we were told that mom was sick, which was a complete shock to us all. The fear of the unknown was the worst bit. She epitomised the word brave.”

Emer's son, Ronan, who is studying for his Leaving Certificate exams at Terenure College, said his mother was “truly one of a kind.”

“She was one of those people who had the ability to click with every person she met, she had such a sharp wit and her sense of humour was like no other,” he added.

“I have always admired her so much for her strength and resilience whenever an obstacle came her way. She always had that special ability to put on a brave face even when it got tough.

“She said to us the other day, ‘I have fought my best fight’, and she really did.”

Request

Due to current Government guidelines regarding public gatherings, the private funeral took place for immediate family only. It was streamed live on Monday at 12.30pm.

Dr Emer Holohan's request was for family flowers only and donations if desired to Terenure College sixth year Gofundme campaign, in aid of The Irish Cancer Society and Our Lady’s Hospice.

She died at Our Lady’s Hospice, Harold’s Cross on Friday morning in the company of her husband and children, Clodagh and Ronan.

Ireland
Dr Emer Holohan dies following long illness
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She had been living with a form of blood cancer since 2012. She was a specialist in public health medicine and a medical graduate of University College Dublin.

Dr Tony Holohan has been a household name since last March when the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, and his nightly briefings as part of the National Public Health Emergency Team have dominated the news agenda.

In July, he took a leave of absence from his role as Emer entered palliative care, returning to the position in October.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said his thoughts are with the family and praised Emer's contribution to the health service.

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