About Me

I am an Irish-American journalist based in Washington, D.C., currently working as editorial director at a U.S. transportation construction industry association and as a freelance writer. I have made 10 trips to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland since 2000, and published articles about Irish historic and contemporary issues in newspapers, magazines, and websites, in addition to over 850 posts on this blog since 2012.

I am interested in the social and political history of Ireland since the Famine and the impact of the Irish in America, and how U.S. and Irish journalists reported the Land War of the 1880s and the Irish revolution. I have presented research at the American Conference of Irish Studies, the American Journalism Historians Association, the Newspaper and Periodical History Forum of Ireland, and the Irish Railroad Workers Museum in Baltimore.

I obtained Irish citizenship through my maternal grandparents, both from County Kerry, and hold an Irish passport. I am a member of Irish Network-DC. Follow me at @markaholan & LinkedIN. (I dropped Facebook.)

Presenting at the Newspaper and Periodical History Forum of Ireland annual conference, Belfast, Northern Ireland, November 2019.

I wrote His Last Trip: An Irish-American Story, a biography of my emigrant grandfather, who died 18 years before I was born. The 213-page book also explores Kerry’s Lartigue monorail; Ireland’s struggle for independence; the streetcar system and social conditions of Pittsburgh before World War II; and Catholic culture and religious practices in Ireland and the U.S. during the late 19th & early 20th century.

The book “provides a fascinating snapshot of one family’s Irish-American experience and how their lives were shaped by circumstances here and in Ireland,” Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh wrote in a 2018 blog post.

In addition to Carnegie Library, copies of the book are also available at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh; the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, Pa.; and the Archives of Irish America at New York University. In Ireland, the book is on the shelf at the County Kerry Library in Ballybunion, a mile from where my grandfather was born.

In the past, some of my journalism work overlapped with the production of this blog, including stories for Business Journal publications in Tampa and Washington. Today, the blog is independent of my association work. Opinions are my own. All original research and reporting on this blog are copyrighted by Mark Holan. © 2021

16 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Debbie Lewis

    I just came across your blog this morning. I am reading the book by Donnacha Sean Lucey that you refer to on your website. My family also hails from North Kerry near Causeway and Ballyduff. I was raised in northern Ohio, but now live in Fort Myers, FL. Not many people would be interested this book, but it is interesting to me since both of my grandparents owned small plots of land there. I will follow your blog.

    1. admin Post author


      Thanks for your message. True, not many people would read the DSL book, but I find the topic of late 19th century agrarian politics & violence interesting, not only because of my North Kerry ancestors, but also because of how the Land War set the stage for the Rising and Independence. Hope you’ll continue to follow the blog. Regards, Mark Holan

  2. Jackie McConnell

    On Clerys closing, sad but maybe a sign that we just don’t need to buy so much stuff. Anyway, Merry Bloomsday!

  3. Brigid Williamson (Tangney)

    Hi there
    I have just come across your blog as I am in the process of tracing my family history. One of my great great uncles Patrick Tangney was murdered in an ‘outrage’ in Artigallivan Kerry in 1886, he was shot by moonlighters because he was working as a bogman for the ‘landlord’ there is an account of his murder in the London Times and in Hansard which is the daily record of what is said in Parliament.
    Just thought you might be interested given one of your family was murdered in the same way
    kind regards Brigid

    1. admin Post author


      Thanks for the note. Do you know if any of Patrick’s immediate family or relations emigrated from Ireland as the direct result of this ‘outrage?’


  4. Dennis P McManus

    Mr. Holan – I enjoyed your column in today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and look forward to reading your blog.
    Keep up the good work! Thanks.

  5. Susan

    We are cousins. My grandfather was Michael Diggin, your grandfather’s brother. Would enjoy the opportunity to chat with you.


    Hi Mark

    Just a note here from the Lartigue Monorail & Museum here in Listowel. We are planning to commemorate the 130 years early May. (1888 to 2018). We love to hear from people like yourself who keep the history of the Lartigue personal and historical..

  7. Matt Brother

    I’m exploring the blogspot as I recommend it to a friend traveling to the Isle. How exciting it must be to see your book on the library shelf! BRAVO! Congrats on all your diligent research! What a legacy.

  8. sean o'driscoll

    A really excellent blog Mark. Have you gone through the recently digitised Irish war of independence pension archive? I recently discovered through it that my grandfather stored RIC Officer William Stanely’s gun in his IRA arms dump after the Feakle ambush. Your blog then filled in the details with great precision, thank you

  9. Kathleen M O'Leary

    Thank you very much for all your articles and information. My grandfather left Ballyheigue in 1908 and my grandmother let in 1913. They married in 1920 in Chicago.
    Kathy O’Leary

  10. David BARNWELL


    I am enjoying your material.
    I arrived in Pittsburgh over 40 years ago to take up a scholarship at Pitt.
    I never had much contact with American Irish groups in the city during the years I was there as a student. I guess I stayed around Oakland most of the time. I didn’t have a car.

    I have been out of the US for a good few years, but I commend you for your work.


  11. Christopher P Sheedy

    Very interesting, we researched and thoughtful work, Mr. Holan. I am the great grandson of Dr. John Sheedy. I have been researching my family’s history for several years now, and I am continually discovering new information about the first Sheedys in America. I very much admire your hard work. Bravo!


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