by Jimmy Rhatigan

HE WAS perhaps known for his beautiful singing voice, his outgoing personality and well controlled wit that he used so gently.

A son of Johnstown, Billy Holmes was buried in his native place on Monday, beside the local parish church and a mere stone’s throw from his family home.

He was perhaps at least as well known in Kilkenny City where he lived for some time. He was a passionate member of Kilkenny Musical Society that gave him a super singing send-off at his Requiem Mass.


Billy loved life; he truly enjoyed the theatre, particularly the Watergate Theatre and had parts in a number of plays and shows over the years. 

He was a first class piano player but it was his singing voice that his myriad friends will remember forever and a day.

I had the privilege of knowing Billy from his young years. I was a regular visitor to the local Kelly family in Johnstown, Nicholas, Maureen et all, to whose home I was brought to visit by my late Granny Annie Dunne of Threecastles, a cousin of the Kellys.

Maureen Kilkenny spent many years as sacristan at Johnstown Church and her brother Nick was a lover of the game of hurling and on occasions he collected hurling and camogie players and chauffeured them to Nowlan Park for games. 

Sadly, both Nick and Maureen have passed to their eternal reward.


The Kellys had a shop in the main street of Johnstown and as a young lad I enjoyed the hospitality of that shop, drinking many minerals and sucking sweets thanks to a very generous group of cousins.

I didn’t know Billy Holmes really well at the time as I was quite a young lad and there was a good gap in years between our birthdays. 

However, I got to know him really well in Kilkenny in later years and I really enjoyed meeting him in our city.

Unsurprisingly, there was a big crowd present to bid farewell to a good guy, many of the attendance motoring from Kilkenny City to pay tribute to a loyal friend and comrade.

May Billy rest in peace.

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