TRIBUTE TO A GREAT FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE
It was with great sadness that we all heard of the sudden death of our dear friend Dave Whelan. We all knew that Dave had not been well and had been to see him on several occasions, but we had not expected him to slip away so quickly.
I was very impressed by the lovely tribute that was written on The Avondhu last week, but we felt that it only touched the surface. On behalf of the project committee of the Friends of Tearmann Ui Chaoimh we feel the need to respond on behalf of our vice chair, regarding his wonderful work at the complex of the sheltered housing at James Street.
It was decided at our October meeting at which we had five minute’s silence in Dave’s memory. I was honoured to be asked to write a profile on the voluntary work done by Dave, I found it a bit ironic as it was Dave who asked me many years ago to write a profile on the then chairperson Michael Hayes when he died, RIP.
As far as I can remember Dave Whelan was always doing voluntary work to promote Mitchelstown, his native town. As a young girl I can still remember Dave, Jackie Barrett and others organizing events to raise money to get things going in the town, but most of all the closet thing to Dave’s heart was the sheltered housing in James Street.
Dave had been associated with the Festival of the Galtees as chairperson, secretary, PRO since 1976. Dave was hugely respected by the local community and there was not a thing they would refuse him. He always appreciated the help of the locals and especially the support of the youth. Dave’s motto was we were a community working together to benefit others in a unified community.
The Festival of the Galtees has been the backbone of the complex in James Street and Dave through his connections was a very powerful string to the bow as was reported in The Avondhu.
Dave was a member of the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain and Ireland, what was not said was that not only was he a member but he was their secretary up to a couple of years before his death. He even represented them at a conference in Germany.
Getting money sponsored for the sheltered housing was his main priority and one of the highlights of those years was associated with a house push from Swords to Mitchelstown. 140 miles with 46 local youths organised by Liam Shinnick they walked from Tuesday to Saturday and were greeted by great crowds in Mitchelstown. They made ?6,002.
Dave was also involved in several bed pushes, marathon walks, concerts, table quizes and many more activities outside the festival. He was also an honorary member of COPE, Geriatrics Association, Our Lady’s Sodality, Alzheimer’s Society and other associations that needed support or help to raise money.
Dave will always be associated with the wheel of fortune. COPE Foundation had their bazaar Sunday week last, 11th October. As I walked into the town hall I heard (Tom TO Flynn) calling out the numbers and I thought of Dave and all the others who have helped through the years to support our community, some gone to their eternal reward. All friends of Dave, Phil Moloney, Jackie Barrett, Nell Dineen, Pat Hussey, Betty O’Brien, Alice Lane, Annie Lyons - I can’t remember them all.
Also those who are still with us - Nellie Quinlan, Dr Margaret Finn and I could go on and on, all these should be in a hall of fame for all the wonderful deeds that they have done in the name of voluntary work.
Dave was always there for the parties at the welfare home at St Patrick’s in Fermoy. He sponsored all the presents and he got the show on the road with Liam Roche and Liam’s family, friends and guests. Dave was always the first to leave the square with his car full and he was the last to leave because he had a gift for all the people who were from Mitchelstown. Dave was a gentle giant.
Dave always gave encouragement to the younger people and as a new member he took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. He was a beautiful writer, a great book-keeper and he never forgot a name or date. He was one in a million and we are going to miss him so much, but most importantly of all we will never forget his kindness and caring attitude towards the elderly at the housing complex.
On behalf of the members of the project committee we extend our heartfelt condolences to all of his family, his partner of 22 years Maura. All of us who joined together as his guard of honour felt we had done our duty and had walked with our friend to his final resting place.
It was a sad journey but we could not let him down and why would we when he was always there for us.
The carnival may be over on this earth but Dave will always be the eternal showman.
May God bless you Dave, rest in peace with your loved ones in loving memory.
Thursday 29th October 7:45pm