People on board
Denis Whelan was born in April 1870 in Northcote Avenue, Kingstown to Michael Whelan and Mary Connell. He was the eldest of six children, possibly more, with the youngest, Joseph, being born twenty years later in 1890, the address then being Ards Court. In the meantime the family had lived in a variety of addresses in Kingstown. When Denis married Catherine Berry, from Co Wexford, in July 1900 his address was 2 Northcote Avenue, while hers was Zion Terrace in Rathgar, where she was working as a servant.
Michael Whelan, the father, gave his occupation variously as ‘Sailor’ or as ‘Steward’. On the National Archives Shipping Crew Lists he appears on a few ships out of Kingstown, including the Irish Lights ship ‘Tearaght’ where he was listed as a Steward in 1896. In the 1901 census he was a ‘Steward on Mail Boat’; his wife’s death cert in 1904 said she was the wife of a Sailor. In 1915 Joseph Whelan, youngest brother of Denis, was a Waiter on the Canadian Merchant ship Hesperian, en route to Montreal from Liverpool, when it was torpedoed off the Fastnet. His name is on the Tower Hill memorial. His parents’ address (only his father was alive) was given as 49 Desmond Avenue, Kingstown.
Denis was working on the Ulster from 1899 and he was on the Connaught in 1916 and again in 1917 when it was torpedoed and sunk. He was rescued on that occasion. On the 10th of October 1918 he was one of two Quartermasters, with particular responsibility for steering and signals, on board the Leinster when it was torpedoed. This time he was not rescued and his body was never recovered. His name is also on the Tower Hill memorial. He left his widow Catherine, then living at 29 Lwr Georges St., with five children, one having died at the age of eleven months. The youngest child, Patrick was only five years old. Michael Whelan, Denis’s father, died in 1921 in the Dublin Union Workhouse.