Select Whelan Surname Genealogy

Here are some Whelan stories and accounts over the years:

O'Faolain Origins

Legend has it that the original Faoláin from whom the Phelan surname is derived was nineteenth in descent from a younger brother of Conn of the Hundred Battles who reigned as the High King of Ireland for thirty five years until his death in 157 AD. 

Numerous members of the Ó Faoláin sept were rulers over the years of the Decies tribe which settled in what today is county Waterford.  They were in fact one of the original ancient septs of  Ireland.

Whelans and Phelans

Both Phelan and Whelan emerged as anglicized surnames.  There are in fact more Whelans than Phelans today.

Numbers (000's)

Other surname variants have been Whalen and Phalen.  Whalen is more common in America.

Some Whelan/Whalen Emigrants

These were some of the Whelans/Whalens who left Ireland in the 19th century for pastures new: 

  • Patrick Whalin, born 1738 in Ireland, married Susannah Leach, and emigrated to Montgomery county, Virginia  
  • Solomon Whalen, born 1749 in Ireland, and emigrated to Harrison county, Kentucky  
  • John Whalen, born 1790 in Kilkenny, married Mary Walsh, and emigrated to Nova Scotia in Canada
  • Patrick Whalen, born 1795 in Cork, married Bridget Murphy, and emigrated to Ontario (Carleton county) in Canada  
  • Patrick Whalen, born 1816 in Tipperary, married Deborah Collins, and emigrated to Canada (Kincardine) in Canada  
  • Robert Whalen, born 1826 in Ireland, married Ellen McGraw, and emigrated to Ohio  
  • Martin Whalen, born 1830 in Waterford, married Ellen Power, and emigrated to New York 
  • John Whelan, born 1830 in Ireland, married Margaret Power, and emigrated to Hudson county, New Jersey  
  • Adam Whelan, born 1832 in Tipperary, married Mary McInerney, and emigrated to Melbourne, Australia
  • Thomas Whelan, born 1832 in Limerick, married Catherine Boyle, and emigrated to Iowa  
  • Thomas Whalin, born 1848 in Laois, married Margaret McComiskie, and emigrated to Scotland 
The Whalen spelling predominated for emigration across the Atlantic.  

Charles Whalan, A Convict Who Made Good in Australia

Having been caught poaching trout when he was about fourteen years old, Charles was sentenced in London in 1787 to seven years transportation in Australia.  He was eventually shipped there two years later on the Albemarle.  By 1793 Charles, well educated, was able to join the NSW Corp and he became Sergeant of the Governor’s Bodyguard of Light Horse serving Governor Lachlan Macquarie. 

Macquarie trusted him implicitly and Charles became close to him.  One of his sons was even named Macquarie and Governor Macquarie was his godfather.  But the young boy died at the age of four.  The Governor noted in his diary: 

“The rains all over the colony were both savage and severe.  They marked the passing of my poor little godson, Macquarie Whalan, son of our faithful Sergeant Whalan.” 

Charles and his sons received generous land grants from Macquarie.  The Whalan suburb of Sydney in fact takes its name from James Whalan, his eldest son, who was granted 300 acres at Mount Druitt.

Squire and Allen Whalen of Havilandsville, Kentucky

Whalens have been resident in Havilandsville, Kentucky since the early 1800’s.  The following article appeared about them in the Lexington Herald-Leader of January 13, 1957. 

“We found Allen Whalen, a keen-witted 87-year-old, topping his patch of chewing tobacco which was goring in the vegetable garden.  He had many memories of Havilandsville in the earlier days. 

His father, Squire Whalen, built his own log cabin in the woods here about 1835.  He built his own flatboats, too, and shipped the produce of his farm downriver to Cincinnati.  Once when he received three cents a pound for his tobacco crop he considered it an excellent price. 

One of the best-remembered things he told his son was how, as a young man he once went to the creek to haul water.  Glancing behind him, he saw following his cow, horse, dog and cat - all his earthly possessions - and was the proudest man in the world. 

Squire Whalen died in 1931 at the age of 96.  Before he died he told his son many anecdotes about Havilandsville and the northeastern corner of Harrison county it served.”

Dave Whelan and Football

Dave Whelan had two bites of the footballing cherry, as a player for Blackburn Rovers and as an owner of Wigan Athletics.  In-between there was a very successful business career. 

In his autobiography Playing to Win, Whelan credited the Wigan Boys’ Club for turning him from
a feckless rebel with criminal tendencies into a lad determined to go on the straight and narrow and make it as a footballer.  He signed for Blackburn Rovers in 1953 and made his debut for the Rovers in 1956.  The highlight of his footballing career came in 1960 when he and Blackburn Rovers made it to the FA Cup Final. 

However, just two minutes before half-time, the right shin of Norman Deeley, the Wolves' outside-right, met Dave Whelan's left shin and there was a loud crack.  Whelan was carried off and ten-man Blackburn lost the game.  At 23, Dave Whelan's top-level career was effectively over. 

With the £400 compensation he received following his injury, he made a fresh start as a market trader in Blackburn.  Soon he bought a small grocery business which was rapidly parlayed into a discount business and eventually sold to a supermarket chain for £1.5 million.  For his next trick, he transformed a local sports shop, JJ Bradburn, into JJB Sports, one of Britain’s
biggest sports retailers. 

In 1995 David Whelan turned his eye towards his primary love, football, and took over as Chairman of then struggling Wigan Athletic.  His involvement began when a director asked him to loan the club £760 to cover the players' wages for the week: "And bingo, I was in." 

His investment saw Wigan rise through the ranks, culminating in their promotion to the top drawer, the English Premiership, in 2005.  He has invested heavily in providing the public of Wigan, including the supporters of the town's rugby team which he helped rescue from financial ruin, with a stadium fit for high level sport.

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