Holohan (Houlihan), Patrick (‘Paddy’) (1897–1946), revolutionary nationalist and trade unionist, was born 2 October 1897 at 3 Terrace Place, off Bella St. in the Dublin north inner city, son of Patrick Holohan, labourer, and Bridget Holohan (née Burns). He joined the republican scouts organisation, Fianna Éireann, in 1910, and was included with his elder brother Garry in a special circle of the IRB composed entirely of Fianna members, formed by Bulmer Hobson (qv) in 1912. The brothers were also active in the Keating branch of the Gaelic League. Serving in Fianna contingents that took part in gun-running at Howth, Co. Dublin, and Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow (July–August 1914), during the former operation they were involved in a clash with soldiers on the Malahide Road during the return march to Dublin with the landed arms. Paddy Holohan assisted Seán Mac Diarmada (qv) in publication of the IRB organ, Irish Freedom.
By 1916 Paddy was a senior Fianna officer. On Easter Monday morning (24 April) he and Garry were among a party of some thirty Fianna scouts and Irish Volunteers that raided the Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park. During prior training in explosives, Paddy had declared himself ‘disconcerted’ by the insistence of the instructor, Thomas MacDonagh (qv), that the operation be effected without loss of life. Approaching the fort by kicking a football ever nearer the gate, the party overpowered the sentries. Though failing in their primary objective of gaining entry to the high-explosives store and detonating a colossal blast that would destroy the fort and dramatically signal the start of the insurrection, they seized a quantity of small arms and ammunition, and set off a series of minor explosions that ignited a serious fire that burned until the next day. As the party exited the park on bicycles, Garry Holohan pursued the teenage son of the fort's caretaker as he rushed to raise the alarm at the nearby Islandbridge military barracks, and shot him dead in the back. Throughout the rest of Easter week the Holohans fought in the Four Courts area under the command of Edward Daly (qv). On Saturday 29 April, Paddy assumed command of a small detachment engaged in fierce fighting in North Brunswick St. when his superior officer was wounded. Surrounded and cut off from battalion headquarters, he refused to surrender until receiving on the next day, via local Capuchin friars (who had mediated an overnight truce to allow evacuation of the wounded), a copy of the general surrender order handwritten by the imprisoned Patrick Pearse (qv).
After internment in Knutsford detention barracks and camp, Paddy joined the Irish Volunteers, serving as an instructor in F Coy, 1st Bn, Dublin Bde, active in the training of recruits. A man of considerable strength and athleticism, who kept himself in peak fitness, he was said to have delighted in the minor torments suffered by his charges during sessions of rigorous physical drill. He planned and led a raid on Collinstown aerodrome, north Co. Dublin (where at the time he was employed), which procured one of the largest hauls of arms ever captured by the Volunteers from a British arsenal (19 March 1919). During the Anglo–Irish war he was inspector of the IRA East Antrim and Down Bde. On formation of the Dublin Brigade's active service unit in 1920, he became CO of the 1st Bn with the rank of commandant, in which capacity he took part in the attack on the Dublin Custom House (25 May 1921). An opponent of the 1921 treaty, he participated in the Dublin fighting on the outbreak of the civil war. Captured in August 1922, he was imprisoned in Kilmainham jail, Gormanstown camp, and Mountjoy jail.
A carpenter by trade, Holohan was a long-serving president of the Irish National Union of Woodworkers (1920–35); president of the Dublin Trades Union and Labour Council (1932–4), he served two terms on the executive of the Irish Trade Union Congress (1933–5). Joining the defence forces during the 1939–45 emergency, he helped organise and became the first CO of the 26th Rifle Bn, a unit of second-line volunteers composed entirely of IRA veterans from both sides of the treaty divide. Called subsequently into the regular army, he was CO of the 1st Bn, Construction Corps. After demobilisation (Dec. 1945), he was an overseer with a residence at Lake Lodge in the Phoenix Park. He married Josie Harpur, a member of Cumann na mBan; they had three sons and two daughters. Stricken with a cerebral haemorrhage, he died in Dublin on 3 July 1946, and was buried in Mount Jerome cemetery.
His brother Garry Holohan (1894–1967) was interned after the Easter rising in Knutsford and Frongoch. During the war of independence, he was an officer in the 5th Bn (Engineers), Dublin Bde. Also taking the anti-treaty side, he took part in the destruction of the presses of the Freeman's Journal (30 March 1922), and fought with the Gresham Hotel garrison in the first days of the civil war. In later years he was employed by Dublin corporation as an electrical engineer. At his marriage (1922) to Bríd O'Hegarty, the best man was Liam Mellows (qv). Of his four sons and two daughters, all but one entered the religious life, including the eldest son, Irish-language activist Colmán Ó Huallacháin (qv).