​Memorial service for Dr Brian Hoolahan filled with stories and laughter

Former local obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Brian Hoolahan was farewelled in a memorial service at Cambewarra Estate Winery on Monday.

More than 200 people, including a number of former work colleagues, attended the service.

Dr Hoolahan died on the Gold Coast on December 16, aged 78.     

In his 50 plus year career it is estimated the man affectionately known as Hooly,  delivered 20,000 babies, including more than 10,000 in the Shoalhaven.

A number of former colleagues including Dr Lee Simes, Dr Ian Hoult, Dr Col Shepherd, Kerry Troy representing the midwives, former federal member John Kerin, an overseas tribute from former local Ian Plaud and Dr Hoolahan’s wife Julie gave insight into his life and career.

In a fitting farewell for the much loved former medico, the service was filled with stories and plenty of laughs and appropriately Frank Sinatra’s My Way and Rod Stewart’s Sailing were played.

“Brian was an amazing, unique, eccentric, caring, generous, intelligent, difficult and dominating man,” Mrs Hoolahan said.

“When Brian was born, a matron doing her rounds told his mother he had hands like a surgeon -  his future was set.”

He excelled at school with a very good work ethic. He finished his secondary schooling at Canterbury Boys’ High and studied medicine at Sydney University,  graduating in 1963 with honours.

During his university days he met and married his first wife Dianne having four children.

During his 10 years as a GP in Enfield he delivered so many babies that when his marriage ended he studied obstetrics and gynecology.

He studied at various hospitals including Port Kembla and Wollongong which led him to the South Coast.

Julie and Brian met at the Royal Hospital for Women at Paddington in 1980.

“He was a very good doctor with a fun, working together personality,” she said.

The most generous and caring, funny doctor I’ve ever known.

Julie Hoolahan

In December 1980 he took a locum position in Nowra and started a practice in 1981.

“Set up in Nowra we met some of our lifelong friends,” Mrs Hoolahan said.

They were married in October 1981 and Brian’s practice continued to grow.

In 1983 the couple started their family and moved to Terrara House. Eventually they would have four children together.

“Brian loved that old house and spent many hours in the yards mowing, collecting antique furniture and newspapers,” she said.

“There were many stories there. One day, two large trucks arrived after he had been to an auction. All this Italian furniture was loaded into the house, filling the 23 rooms to the brim.”

He started medical visits to Milton to cover the southern Shoalhaven with service.

Social life was always a big part of the family and the couple developed a passion for travelling.

In December ’88 they sold Terrara House and bought a farm at Tapitallee, a property they owned for more than a decade before deciding to move to Queensland.

A  home in Sorrento was purchased in 2003 but Julie’s battle with breast cancer kept the couple in the local area.

“Despite the kids growing up and moving away, Brian couldn’t retire, he just liked his work too much,” she said.

“In 2009 he decided to sell up and move. He said he was going to just tidy things up down here. Famous last words but he just couldn’t seem to stop working.

“I moved north and he stayed here - as a relationship it worked.

“ I loved his big personality from the start. His laughter, his work ethic. I knew how much work meant to him.

“But I will remember him for our wonderful life together, our beautiful  kids, our large blended family, our great social life with special friends, special trips together but also our alone time.

“He worried about his patients and some of their outcomes. He was the most generous and caring, funny doctor I’ve ever known.

“My life has been enriched because of Brian.”


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