Tuohy was the third of four sons born to Denis and Bridget Tuohy of County Tipperary. He was affected at age six by a long bout with tuberculosis. He attended All Hallow's College in Dublin and trained during the summers in London, where he began learning to play accordion. He was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1961 and sent to Pensacola, Florida. He soon transferred to St James Catholic School in Gadsden. One of the nuns there, Sister Margherita (Elma Hannon), was so enamored of his singing that she resigned from her order. Tuohy, meanwhile, came into conflict with Archbishop Thomas Toolen over his desire to participate in the Civil Rights Movement, a ministry which he believed was endorsed by the Second Vatican Council. In 1970 he proposed to Elma and the couple moved to Ireland and produced a daughter, Niamh.
Unable to find employment there, the Tuohys returned to Alabama where Jim became executive director of the Interfaith Mission Service and the couple welcomed a son, Fergus. Episcopal Bishop Bill Stough encouraged Tuohy to join the Episcopal church and he was assigned as an associate priest at St Andrew's Episcopal Church in Birmingham. He established the ministry that evolved into Community Kitchens, and also served as chaplain to UAB Campus Ministries, co-founder of Southside Ministries. He also ministered to AIDS patients and their families at UAB Hospital. His involvement in protests against nuclear proliferation led the Federal Bureau of Investigation to open a file on him.
Tuohy was later assigned as rector to Church of St Michael and All Angels in Anniston where he fostered the growth of the parish's free medical clinic, and co-founded that city's first Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) chapter, and supported the work of Habitat for Humanity in Calhoun County. From 1999 until his retirement in 2009 he was rector of St Andrews Episcopal Church in Montevallo, helping lead efforts to establish the Canterbury House student center.
In recalling all of his work in ministering to those in need, Tuohy credited the teaching of Jesus at the Mount of Olives (Matthew 25:31–46).
Tuohy spent his last years in assisted living as Alzheimer's disease affected his memory. He died in April 2022 and was survived by his wife Elma, two children and two grandchildren.
- King, Bill (May-June 2009) "Weaving a Tapestry of Mission and Outreach in Our Diocese". The Alabama Episcopalian, p. 2
- "The Rev. Dr. James Fidelis Tuohy" obituary (April 9, 2022) The Birmingham News