World smiled with him
Community mourns Dennis – the larrikin, the leprechaun joke teller, the legend
WHEN St Marys missed out on the Sydney 2000 Olympic torch relay, Dennis Whelan made his own torch and ran around the streets in a oneman protest.
When Christmas rolled around it was Dennis who would don a Santa suit in the hot weather and hand out lollies to local kids.
On St Patrick’s Day the Irish-born local would dress up in green and wander around dispensing leprechaun jokes and his own brand of humour.
Now the local larrikin is gone, and residents around his Monfarville St neighbourhood are missing the man who brought so much cheer to their lives.
Mr Whelan, 75, died recently in Nepean Hospital after a three-year battle with kidney disease.
“When I look outside I still look for him,” said Daxa Dalal, who runs the post office opposite his old home, where a sign on the door still reads: “Kiss me, I’m Irish.”.
“I can’t believe he’s not here. He was always giving lollies to everyone, people shopping and kids walking around,” Ms Dalal said.
“He was a very kind guy. He would often look after the counter for a minute if I had to go out the back. He treated me like a daughter.
“Everybody here knew him. When he was sick in hospital everyone was asking, ‘How is he? Have you seen him?’.”
Mr Whelan, one of eight children, was born in Dublin and moved to Australia when he was 29.
He worked as an odd jobs and maintenance man, and had lived in St Marys for 20 years. He married but never had children, and his wife died 16 years ago.
His sister Helen, who lives in Victoria, said: “He’s the only person I know who put years on to his age. He would always say he was 10 years older than he really was. He loved people saying, ‘You look great for 85’.
“He was only happy when he was making people smile. He loved his community.
“I loved him and miss him so much. I feel the world is a less happy place without him in it.”
Dennis Whelan at the seaside he loved so much (left), and where his ashes will be scattered, (top) running the St Marys “torch relay” in lieu of the real thing and (above) with his sister Helen.