In a book stuffed to the rafters with minor characters, "Hoppy
Holohan" is one of the most minor. Joyce probably based
him on an actual person that he learned about from Nora, but
biographical information about this person has not been found.
Holohan plays a fairly important (though ignominious) role in
the Dubliners story "A Mother," but in Ulysses
he is reduced to having two people ask two other people
whether they know him.
"A Mother" begins with a paragraph introducing him: "Mr
Holohan, assistant secretary of the Eire Abu Society,
had been walking up and down Dublin for nearly a month, with
his hands and pockets full of dirty pieces of paper, arranging
about the series of concerts. He had a game leg and for this
his friends called him Hoppy Holohan. He walked up and down
constantly, stood by the hour at street corners arguing the
point and made notes; but in the end it was Mrs Kearney who
In Lotus Eaters M'Coy
learns that Bloom is going to Paddy
Dignam's funeral and says, "I only heard it last
night. Who was telling me? Holohan. You know Hoppy?"
Bloom replies, "I know." In Aeolus Mr. O'Madden Burke,
who lends moral support to Holohan in "A Mother" when he has
his falling out with Mrs. Kearney, discusses details of the
Phoenix Park murders with Myles Crawford and says, "Holohan
told me. You know Holohan?" Crawford replies, "Hop and
carry one, is it?" In Circe Holohan fills a small and
purely choral role. He has one line: "Good old Bloom!
There’s nobody like him after all."
Vivien Igoe writes that a man of the same name "was mentioned in a letter from a suspicious Joyce to Nora dated 7 August 1909. Holohan appeared as a guest in Finn's Hotel in Leinster Street where the 19-year-old Nora worked as a chambermaid in the early months of 1904. He tried unsuccessfully to seduce her. Holohan could well have served as the model for the Holohan in Joyce's fiction."