Honorary Secretary East Galway Board GAA 1929-1971
Honorary Secretary Galway County Board GAA 1937-1971
Jack Whelan’s parents were John and Kate (née Mansfield) of Derradda, Killimor. Jack grew up hearing stories of Famine, Coffin Ships, American Wakes, and the halving of the population. He heard stories of local heroes like Paddy Larkin and Frank Lynch, who were responsible for the first set of printed rules for Hurling – “The Killimor Rules” 1869. Jack was told of Killimor men who formed half of the Meelick team that contested the first All-Ireland Hurling Final in Birr in 1887. He also heard of the “Forgottn All-Ireland” – forgotten because the powerhouse of hurling, Killimor was prevented from competing by the Authorities. It was in his native Killimor that the modern sliotar was invented. It had a core of cork while the old style hurling balls had a core of paper.
Jack’s Working Life
Jack worked in Supply Stores in East Clare in the early part of the century and also locally in Killimor. Records show that he supplied a delivery service on behalf of M.A. Brody, Killimor. Jack and his brother Brendan operated a hackney-car and petrol pump service in the village of Killimor. Jack Whelan’s Hackney Service began in 1925 with the purchase of a second-hand Ford V8 Super de Luxe car, from G.A. Claffey, Portumna. Among his customers were teachers, politicians, members of the clergy, the Local Defence Force, Gardaí, hurlers and local individuals and groups.
Jack and the Gaelic Athletic Association
All of Jack’s business reflected the fact that hurling and the GAA were prominent in his life. Jack was a hurler of note in the 1920s but a serious injury did not dull his enthusiasm for building the “Irish-identity” in an emerging nation. In this regard he served as an administrator in the GAA, from 1929 until his death in 1971. His energy and idealism found expression in his administration of GAA affairs in Galway for more than four decades. As Honorary County Secretary, he ensured a separate and distinct identity for the GAA within his jurisdiction. The affairs of the GAA were regularised and transparent under his stewardship. Jack was commended for his “honesty, loyalty and conscientiousness” by J.K. Hehir at the County Convention in New Inn in 1962, on the occasion of his Silver Jubilee in office.
Unveiling of Plaque
Jack Whelan was honoured by the unveiling of a plaque in his memory in Killimor GAA Grounds in 1974. The inscription reads:
I NDÍL-CHUIMHE DO
SHEÁN Ó FAOLÁIN
TÓGTHA AG C.L.G. NA GAILLIMHE
AR A RAIBH SÉ MAR
COISTE OIRTHIR 1929-1971
COISTE CHONTAE 1937-1971
A wind storm knocked a large area of the walls in the GAA Grounds in Killimor but the section containing the plaque in Jack’s memory stood firmly against the howling gales.
See also “Stories From Jack Whelan’s Ledger 1900-1971” Chapter 10 in “Killimor Our Parish and Our People”.