Holmes was educated at Holy Family Primary School in Belfast and St Malachy's College, a Roman Catholic grammar school for boys, on the Antrim Road in Belfast. He then studied journalism at the Dublin College of Business Studies.
Holmes worked for a Dublin-based business magazine before going into broadcasting.
In 1979, he joined Ulster Television, the ITV franchise contractor for Northern Ireland. Here Holmes hosted and reported on the station's Farming Ulster programme. Afterwards, Eamonn was teamed up with Ulster Television's legendary sports reporters, Leslie Dawes (1922–2014) and Jackie Fullerton, to assist the extensive coverage of the important sporting events throughout the province.
In 1982, Holmes was moved into news and current affairs reporting when he was tasked to anchor Ulster Television's flagship Good Evening Ulster programme. Holmes succeeded Gloria Hunniford who had presented the show since its launch in 1979. Holmes was the third choice to present the programme after trial runs by news reporters Gary Gillespie and Gerry Kelly.
In addition to his news and current affairs role, Holmes has also hosted other Ulster Television productions, including Miss Northern Ireland gala specials in 1985 and 1986.
He departed from Ulster Television in 1986 to join the BBC. At the corporation's Manchester studios, Holmes worked as a presenter on the daytime Open Air programme which was broadcast nationally on BBC One.
Holmes commenced his career at Ulster Television in front of the camera and later became a host in British television news and current affairs and light entertainment.
Holmes has presented coverage of snooker, horse racing and darts on television. He was also the presenter of ITV's coverage of the Phil Taylor vs. Raymond van Barneveld showdown at the Wembley Conference Centre in 1999.
In 1993, Holmes started working at GMTV, hosting the first show on 1 January 1993 with Anne Davies. He had a falling-out with his subsequent co-host Anthea Turner; however, they were reunited on a BBC NI show entitled The Friday Show in 2009, where they seemed to get on better.
Holmes presented the BBC National Lottery game show Jet Set between 2001 and 2007.
In April 2005, he left GMTV, stating the show had run out of real news and became celebrity obsessed shortly before his departure.
After leaving GMTV in April 2005, Holmes joined Sky News six months later to present the new-look Sunrise programme. He initially hosted the show with Lorna Dunkley between October 2005 and January 2007, then with Charlotte Hawkins from 2007 to 2014. Hawkins defected to ITV in March 2014 and was replaced by Isabel Webster. In September 2016, Holmes announced his departure from the programme after eleven years.
Holmes presented SUDO-Q, a BBC quiz show between December 2005 and March 2007.
In 2006, Holmes began presenting ITV daytime programme This Morning on Friday mornings. He works on the show, co-presenting This Morning with Langsford every Friday and Monday to Thursday during school holidays.
In 2006, Holmes hosted US game show The Rich List. In 2009, Holmes co-presented the ITV series The Feelgood Factor with Myleene Klass. He presented eight episodes of Songs of Praise from 2009 until 2014. In 2010, Eamonn guest presented an episode of Have I Got News for You.
In 2014, Holmes and Ruth Langsford co-hosted a 10-part ITV daytime game show, Gift Wrapped. In 2015, Holmes and Langsford presented a six-part factual series for Channel 5 entitled Eamonn & Ruth: How the Other Half Lives. The programme returned for a second series in September 2016 and a third in June 2017.
In 2016, Holmes presented Channel 5 panel show It's Not Me, It's You. Vicky Pattison and Kelly Brook were team captains on the show.
Holmes has guest presented numerous episodes of Good Morning Britain since April 2017.
In 2001, Holmes appeared on Lily Savage's Blankety Blank. In 2013, Holmes was a judge on the CBBC Blue Peter talent search for a new presenter, Blue Peter – You Decide.
Holmes has made four appearances on the long-running game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?. The first time, he played with Alex Ferguson. On 1 September 2007, he played with Kay Burley. On 20 May 2012, he returned with Ruth Langsford by his side. Finally, on 19 December 2013, to celebrate the end of Millionaire on ITV, Holmes re-appeared on the show with Alex Ferguson. Holmes has also appeared on celebrity editions of game shows including Fifteen to One, Call My Bluff, All Star Mr & Mrs, Tipping Point: Lucky Stars, Catchphrase and The Chase.
Holmes has also made regular appearances on Big Brother's Bit on the Side and in 2015, he was heavily tipped as a housemate for Celebrity Big Brother 16. In 2016, he appeared in two episodes of Diddy TV on CBBC. He has been a panellist on numerous episodes of Through the Keyhole and will appear in ITV's Guess the Star in 2017.
Holmes' foray into radio broadcasting was at Downtown Radio, Northern Ireland's first commercial independent radio station, in the late 1980s.
From around 2003, Holmes presented The Eamonn Holmes Show on Radio 5 Live on Saturday mornings between 9 and 11 am for 6 years, last airing on 30 May 2009 as Holmes' contract with the BBC was not renewed. In 2005, Holmes hosted his own programme on London radio station Magic 105.4.
For a few weeks in 2008, Holmes took over Michael Parkinson's Sunday morning show on Radio 2.
In 2016, Holmes began presenting his own radio show on Talkradio. The show is called Let's Talk With Eamonn Holmes and is broadcast on Saturdays from 6.00am-8.00am and Sundays from 11.00am-1.00pm
Holmes writes a column for The People newspaper. His autobiography was released in May 2006. The autobiography is called This is MY Life, a reference to another famous Irish Eamonn – Eamonn Andrews, after whom he was named. The book reveals some of what occurred behind the scenes during his tenure at GMTV.
On 26 June 2010, Holmes married his long term partner Ruth Langsford at Elvetham Hall in Hampshire. The couple sold exclusive rights to report on the wedding ceremony and the reception to Hello! magazine in a deal that saw the publication feature the event over two issues, in July 2010. The couple have a son called Jack Alexander (b. 2002); Holmes also has three children, Declan, Rebecca and Niall from his first marriage.
Holmes lives in a six-bedroom mansion in Weybridge, Surrey with Langsford and their son Jack.
In 2006, Holmes was awarded an honorary degree by Queen's University Belfast. He has also received an honorary degree from the University of Staffordshire.
Holmes is a fan of Manchester United. In December 2005, he opened the eulogies at the funeral of footballer George Best.
Holmes and Langsford are patrons of Dogs Trust. They adopted their dog, Maggie from the charity in 2011. In 2014, the couple supported the Dementia Friends campaign, which is an Alzheimer's Society initiative.
In April 2015, Holmes became a celebrity ambassador for the children's charity, Variety GB. In January 2016, he became a patron of Northern Ireland Kidney Patients' Association.Television
Holmes was accused of being opposed to LGBT parenting when he told two gay interviewees in a 2000 GMTV episode that "You are not meant to have children. You are going against nature!" American illusionist David Blaine appeared on the show on 29 August 2001. Holmes cites this interview with Blaine as the most awkward moment of his professional career and one of TV's bloopers when he refused to speak and gave him the "evil eye".
In November 2009, Jon Culshaw appeared as Holmes on The Impressions Show in a series of three comedy sketches in which he was portrayed as having an appetite so uncontrollable that he eats a sofa, flowers and even a guest (Frankie Dettori), using the catchphrase 'I was fierce hungry, so I was'. Even though Holmes had interviewed Culshaw and his co-star Debra Stephenson on This Morning to promote the show, after the programme aired the presenter instructed his lawyers to send a letter of complaint to the BBC. The letter resulted in an apology from the BBC along with a withdrawal of any future comedy sketches featuring Holmes. Both the complaint itself and the outcome of Holmes's legal action drew generally unfavourable criticism from media observers and online commentators.
While presenting This Morning in October 2011, Holmes described singer Jonathan Wilkes as "retarded" on air. He later apologised after complaints and calls for him to be sacked. Holmes said: "I have to say sorry to three or four of you who are upset because I used the word retarded. You seem to have taken it personally or think I am being insulting. I would never want to do that. There is this man who has an autistic child and said I insulted his child. I would never use it in that context. Sorry if that caused you offence".
In October 2011, Holmes provoked criticism by suggesting that a rape victim should take taxis in future, leading to accusations of victim blaming.
On 12 May 2016, Eamonn Holmes provoked criticism by comparing an attack by West Ham fans to the Hillsborough disaster.