Memories of the late James (Jim) Whelan (Jan '05)
It was with great sadness that we heard of Jim's death on the 25th February 2004. I know that he had coped for many years with health problems so much so that when I'd meet him we had begun to joke that I wouldn't ask him how he was any more.Jim, of course, would smile that knowing, charming, seductive smile of his and get down to chatting about the matter in hand. It's been nearly a year since his passing and I know that there's hardly a day when we don't think of him and Chrissie and all the family.
I first encountered Jim on the wards when I was a young, eager student nurse. I was very much the boy and he was the father figure, authoritative, wise, kind, knowing and very capable. As my children were born I began to share an understanding with him, becoming less of a boy in the process and growing to know each other and our mutual famillies. I knew him particularly well through our trade union circles where Jim contributed an enormous amount. He led well, advised, educated, joked and generally immersed himself in our shared efforts. Those were great years, filled with struggle, belief, comaraderie and lots of humour. I remember them with great pleasure. Jim seemed to know everyone, showed great understanding and was never far from introducing a touch of fun and understatement. I miss him greatly as do all of us who grew to know him and his wonderful family. I knew, as did so many of us, that we had to share him. They'd say at home you can get too much of a good thing but I doubt its truth in Jim's case. May he rest in peace and I pray that all of us and his family will continue to be sustained by our rich memories of his wonderful life and work.
Chrissie has given me a copy of the eulogy to Jim which was given by his nephew, Tommy Hannon, at the funeral at St Paul's Church on 2.3.04 and I've extracted some of this, together with some photos for the site. Tommy, of course, is a former Franciscan having been at St Francis from 1975 to 1984 where he experienced his uncle's many roles and involvements with family, friends and professions alike.
Tommy writes :
'Jim was born on 11.12.1925 in Ballylogue, Ballinasloe,Co Galway. He was the youngest of three with a brother and a sister. He grew up and worked on the family farm, received a very good education and studied music and drama in the process. He went on to play with the famous Aughram Slopes Band and played in dance halls all over Galway. Later, in England, he would play with the Lindfield Pipe Band and tour in Germany. He was also proficient on the fiddle and whistle. He excelled at hurling and later played for his county.
In 1949, in common with many of his compatriots, he left for England's shores. He joined nursing and was qualified in learning disability, psychiatry , general and community nursing and enjoyed his work where he made many friends. He was very involved clinically, managerially and represented staff on many levels and through his work with the trade union.
Jim made many friends locally, nationally and internationally and kept close close contact with his extended family.
Meeting up with the extremely pretty lady from Beaufort, Co Kerry, proved to be the most enriching event in his lifetime. Chrissie and Jim made a wonderful couple. They went on to have five children and together with his then eight grandchildren, he was a happy man in the midst of his loving family.
The record speaks of visits to the family home of a certain Paddy Henry who could be guaranteed to arrive just as the meal was served! Chrissie always had a morsel in the pot for him even though Jim in a quiet and gentle voice would say : 'For God's sake Chrissie, don't feed him or he'll come back!'
Jim was a great collector of everything and anything and could be relied upon to come up with anything you might require on a loan.
Jim came from a people who were contented with and appreciated the simple things in life, like good company, friendship, conversation, religion, family and a light dusting of politics to spice things up. May God have mercy on his soul and give him a place in his Kingdom which he so richly deserves.' ( Edited from Tommy Hannon's eulogy)