WHALEN FAMILY HISTORY
"The name Whalen/Whelan must be dealt with in conjunction with Phelan,
as they are anglicized variants of the same Gaelic surname,
Faoláin, which itself has variant forms such as Ó
and Ó hAoláin.
Whelan is more numerous than :Phelan: it alone
stands seventy-ninth in the list of the hundred commonest in Ireland;
Phelan added the name takes forty-fourth place, with an estimated
of about twelve thousand persons.
In the last year (1960's) for which such
statistics are available 214 births were registered for Whelan and 93
Phelan. Eighty per cent of the latter belonged to Counties Waterford,
and adjacent areas; while Whelans exteneded further into Wexford and
Many, of course, were born in Dublin, but in considerations of this
the metropolitan area can be disregarded.
It is natural that the present
day representatives of the sept of O'Faol'ain should be found in the
mentioned, because their chiefs were Princes of the Decies before the
invasion, while a branch of the sept was settled a little further north
in the south-west part of Co. Kilkenny. One of these, John Phelan, was
Bishop of Ossory at the time of the Catholic resurgence under James
The gentleman who styles himself "O'Phelan, Prince of the Decies" (a
not allowed by the Genealogical Office) was born Whelan; the well
known writer S'ean O'Faolain is the son of Denis Whelan. Another
Whelan was Leo Whelan, R.H.A (1892-1956), the portrait painter. Of
using the form Phelan the best known are Edward Joseph Phelan, the
of the International Labour Office, formerly of Dublin, adn Frederick
Phelan, a distinquished Canadian soldier. In the United States, Phelans
have been prominent, notably James Phelan (1824-1892), Leix-born
and his son James Duval Phelan (1861-1930), senator and mayor of San
Argent four lozenges in bend conjoined azure between two cotises of
the last, on a chief gules three fleur-de-lis of the first.
Crest: A stag's head or."
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