John Horan was born on 7th January 1834 in Ireland and we know that he attended the seminary at Ware. By 1857 he was at Woolwich and in 1861 moved on to Chislehurst. He arrived in Portsea in 1865 where he moved to No. 25 Prince George's Street which was attached to the first Catholic chapel to have been built in Portsmouth since the Second Catholic Relief Act of 1791 was passed.
This was a momentous time for the Catholics who had previously been banned from building a chapel in a Corporation Borough. To attend Catholic services they had had to travel to Havant or Gosport.
By all accounts Canon Horan was a dynamic priest who set about making up for lost time and establishing the Roman Catholic faith as a major force in the religious life of Portsmouth. In this he succeeded dramatically, by introducing music to the liturgy at the Chapel, by playing an active part in local education and as a member of the School Board and by increasing the size of the congregation. By 1882 he had become instrumental in the purchase of the land on which St. John's church and church school would arise. Within three years St. John's had been consecrated as a parish church and almost immediately converted into the Cathedral church of the new Portsmouth Diocese.
Canon Horan's final years were spent as Church Administrator at the Cathedral - a post we would now know as the Dean. He died on August 21st 1885.
Horan died very shortly after Highland Road Cemetery was doubled in size by the extension to the south. A part of this new territory was specifically allocated to the Roman Catholics and Canon Horan was probably the first person to be buried there. Whether he was or not, such was the esteem in which he was held that the Catholic plot has ever since been known as the Horan Division.
An extended biography is available on the History InPortsmouth website.