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John Holland from Ballyragget in Co Kilkenny

Tributes paid to Kilkenny man who died off Australian coast on New Year's Day

John Holland (63) from Ballyragget in north Co Kilkenny, was visiting family in Melbourne when he got into difficulty while sea swimming.

TRIBUTES HAVE BEEN paid to a Kilkenny man who died on New Year’s Day off the Australian coast.

John Holland (63) from Ballyragget in north Co Kilkenny, was visiting his daughter Emma in Melbourne when he got into difficulty swimming in the sea.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, parish priest for Ballyragget and Lisdowney Eamonn O’Gorman said that John had gone to the beach with a next-door neighbour and his daughter.

“…Emma went out to see if she could bring him back in and a half-an-hour or so later his body was washed up ashore.

“The paramedics worked on him for some time but the result was he died which is very, very sad for the family, many, many friends and parishioners and many people from around the country,” O’Gorman said.

John is survived by Emma and his two other children John Junior and Kate.

He was predeceased by his wife Marie in May 2022 following an illness. It was during this time that he became close friends with O’Gorman.

The two had lunch together only two days prior to John leaving for Australia, with three sets of rosary beads gifted to him ahead of the journey.

“He would be in the Church at 6.30am saying his prayers. He was a man of faith,” O’Gorman said.

John had been enjoying his visit, as O’Gorman recalled receiving 132 clips and photos from him of the holiday: “[He] was a great man to send photos when he got into Wifi.”

Now, “instead of welcoming back John tomorrow evening, we are making arrangements for his funeral unfortunately”, O’Gorman said.

“It’s very, very sad,” he added.

He said tribute to his friend, explaining that repatriation efforts are underway to bring John home for burial.

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