Obituary - Michael William Houlihan


Bar Roll no: 1576

It is with deep regret that the Bar Council informs members of the death on Wednesday 20 February 2019 of Michael Houlihan. Michael was 83 (born 5 October 1935).

Requiem Mass will be offered at St James Catholic Church, Nar Nar Goon Road, Nar Nar Goon on Tuesday 26 February 2019 at 11 am, immediately preceded by the Rosary at 10:30 am.

Michael went to school at St Joseph’s Convent Primary School, Cora Lynn – riding a fractious Shetland pony some miles each way in all weathers. There was no secondary school locally so, encouraged by the nuns who saw his promise, his parents sacrificed to send him as a boarder to St Patrick’s College, Ballarat. He did well at school but, with his mother ill and with younger brothers, he returned home to work on the family dairy farm with his father (who was older and had fought in World War I) – “Nenagh”, Pakenham. He was active in the Young Farmers and was a formidable debater – later becoming an advisor and adjudicator.

Through the intensely competitive Early Leavers’ Scheme at Monash, he gained entry to the University. He and his wife Marie sold the dairy herd, leased-out the farm and, with 5 children and “one on the way”, they both worked part-time while he completed the Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Laws Degrees at Monash. He served Articles with Jim Keogh at Keogh & Smith in Narre Warren and was admitted to practice in April 1980. He remained with the firm as a Solicitor for only a couple of months, then came to the Bar, reading with John Keenan (later QC and now retired).

Michael was in the second Bar Readers Course in June 1980 – all 19 Readers in that course were assigned to the newly-established Howells’s List. He began with a very general and largely Magistrates’ Court practice which developed into a Criminal Practice – largely County Court Trials – and with North East Victoria Circuit work. He was frequently Junior to the late Charles Francis AM RFD QC, including in the massive exorcism manslaughter prosecution of Vollmer – 45 days in the County Court at Horsham in 1994; and 15 days in the Court of Criminal Appeal in 1995. He practised at the Bar more than 28 years.

Michael loved reading – literature, poetry, history and philosophy – a voracious reader all his life. He was active in politics; stood for election a number of times on behalf of the Democratic Labour Party; and later joined the Liberal Party.

He was devoted to his family and enormously proud of his 7 children and 20 grandchildren.

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