Mary Kate Holohan, née O’Brien passed away in Mission Viejo, California on August 22, 2020 at age 95. Mary was born in Doonecoy, County Sligo, Ireland, on March 12, 1925, to Charles and Maggie O’Brien, sister to William and Theresa.
Mary emigrated to the United States with her family at age five and grew up in Manhattan, New York. While working as a data entry clerk with Peggy Holohan she met Peggy’s brother, Michael. The two fell in love and married on November 30, 1946. Their marriage would last 71 loving years until Michael’s passing in 2017. Michael and Mary lived on Long Island and raised seven children: Michael, Jr., Patricia, Maureen, Brian, Eileen, Patrick and Theresa.
While raising her children in New York, Mary was an avid seamstress, making clothes and school uniforms for her children, as well as a voracious reader. Her love of books continued through her later years. She loved playing cards with her friends and family. As a mother she rejected materialism, allowing her children to dig in the garden with her good silver and letting her daughters dress up in her nice clothes. She welcomed strays, both human and animal, at one point hosting a wedding for one of her daughter’s girlfriends whose parents didn’t approve of the marriage. Raising seven children was, of course, a full-time job and Mary gave it everything she had.
In 1978 Michael and Mary moved to Southern California, and most of their children joined them. Their family quickly grew with a total of seventeen grandchildren: Michael, Sean, Georg, Keith, Katie, Matthew, Ian, Paige, Brendan, William, Michelle, Erica, Andrew, Alicia, Danielle, Patricia and Ryan. At the time of Mary’s passing the fourth generation was well underway with fifteen great-grandchildren: Scarlet, Benjamin, Christian, Corinna, Vincent, Cadence, Shalyn, Wyatt, Talia, Eamon, Cormac, Gavin, Drake, Everett, and Liam.
Mary was a devoted matriarch and took great pride in her sprawling clan. She loved to host large holiday gatherings, surrounded by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, welcoming as much extended family as could fit in her Mission Viejo home. As her family grew she treated her in-laws like her own flesh and blood.
Mary was an endless fount of love and affection for her family, treating every wedding, graduation, birth, and other accomplishment as a personal triumph. She would send a card for every birthday and holiday and she recognized the voice of anyone who called by phone. Her families’ lives were her life, their happiness her own.
When not devoting herself to her family Mary enjoyed casino gambling and was an active Lady Elk, serving as President of her local chapter. As an Irish immigrant, Mary took great pride in her Irish heritage. Her home was bedecked in emerald green, and the few spots on her walls that weren’t covered in family photos were adorned with Irish flags, maps, coats of arms, and other cultural decorations. Mary was a literal, physical connection to Ireland for her family, with her native birth allowing several of her family members to obtain Irish citizenship, and one grandson becoming an Irish Solicitor.
Mary was cherished by all who knew her for her warmth, humor and affection, and leaves behind a great gap that can never be filled. A family has lost its center of gravity and Mary will be dearly missed by those who knew and loved her.