McLoughlin is born in Cross Street in the centre of Galway on April 9, 1929. His parents run a small wholesale grocery business. He attends the Patrician Brothers primary school in Nuns’ Island and St. Mary’s College, Galway. He studies for the priesthood at Maynooth and is ordained on June 20, 1954.
After ordination McLoughlin is appointed to the teaching staff of St. Mary’s College, Galway where he develops interests in basketball and amateur dramatics. He is appointed diocesan secretary in September 1965, bringing to that role a reserved dedication to duty, meticulous planning and financial acumen. He leaves full-time teaching in 1983 and is appointed parish priest of Galway Cathedral.
On February 10, 1993, the year after the sensational resignation of Bishop Eamon Casey, McLoughlin is appointed by Pope John Paul II as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh. His consecration takes place in Galway Cathedral on March 28, 1993. After his death one obituary notes that McLouglhin’s “quiet demeanour…intimate knowledge of Galway and his being a native son, made him the ideal man to assume responsibility for the diocese when Bishop Eamonn Casey resigned.”
McLoughlin serves as chairman of the finance and general planning committee of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference. In 2003 he is one of the first Irish bishops to announce the clustering of parishes in recognition of the falling number of priests, his diocese having had very few vocations or ordinations in the decade up to 2003.
McLoughlin announces his retirement on May 23, 2005 and on July 3 is succeeded as bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh by Martin Drennan. He lives in Claregalway during his retirement, and dies on November 25, 2005 in Galway Clinic. His funeral is held in Galway Cathedral, and he is interred in the crypt beneath the cathedral.
McLoughlin’s successor, Bishop Martin Drennan, says he is deeply saddened and shocked by the news of McLoughlin’s death and that the late bishop was deeply loved and admired by the people and priests of his native city and diocese.
Dr. Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, also pays tribute to the late bishop. He says Bishop McLoughlin was a gentle and humble man who radiated great joy, friendship and happiness to all whom he met.