Tuesday, 3 May 2011

John Whelan, patron of Irish music in New York, dies at 84

"John Whelan, the youngest of eight children born on a farm in County Clare, Ireland, who loved Irish music and 'lived the American Dream,' died Tuesday. He was 84.

Whelan arrived in New York City in 1955 with a background in nursing. He married fellow County Clare native Mary (Mae)Clancy in 1959 and settled in Elmhurst, Queens, where they raised four children.

Whelan worked for 35 years as a registered nurse at the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine. He specialized in caring for patients with spinal-cord injuries, spina bifida and stroke victims. He went on to head the urological nursing staff and care for baseball Hall of Famer Roy Campanella and Joe Kennedy, John F. Kennedy's father.

Whelan and his wife moved to Mineola, L.I., when their children were grown.

'He lived the American Dream,' said his son James Whelan. 'It's the notion that your kids do better than you do.'

'A guy who grew up on a farm in Irelandcomes to this country, works for 35 years, marries a woman he absolutely loves, raises four kids who go on to college and graduate school and has grandkids he loved,' his son said. 'I would argue that's the American dream.'"

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