World smiled with him

Community mourns Den­nis – the lar­rikin, the lep­rechaun joke teller, the leg­end

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Doug Con­way

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.

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