|Born||5 October 1898
Clifden, Co. Galway
|Died||14 March 1921
at Mountjoy Jail, Dublin
|Known for||Executed IRA volunteer : One of The Forgotten Ten|
Whelan was born near Clifden, Co. Galway on 5 October 1898, the sixth child of thirteen. He attended Beleek and Clifden, before leaving school at 15 to work on his father's farm. Whelan moved to Dublin at the age of 18 to find work and joined the Irish Volunteers as a member of 'A' Company, 3rd Battalion, Dublin Brigade. He lived at Barrow Street, Ringsend, Dublin and worked at a train depot.
Arrest and execution
He was arrested on 23 November 1920 and, on 1 February 1921, he was charged with the death by shooting of Captain G.T. Baggelly, an army prosecutor under the Restoration of Order in Ireland Regulations on Bloody Sunday (1920). Whelan was defended at his court martial by Michael Noyk, through whom he protested his innocence of the charges. As in the case of Patrick Moran, there was eye witness evidence that Whelan had been at Mass at the time the shooting took place. The prosecution cast doubt on the reliability of the eye witnesses, arguing that as Catholics they were not neutral. The defence complained that it was unfair to suggest the witnesses "were prepared to come up and perjure themselves on behalf of the prisoner", because "they belonged to a certain class and might hold certain political opinions". The court did, however, trust the evidence of an army officer who lived in the same house as Baggelly and who had idenfied Whelan as the man covering him with a revolver during the raid. There was also testimony by a soldier who had passed by the house when he heard shots fired. This witness said he saw Whelan outside, attempting to start his motorcycle. Whelan was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. He was hanged at 6.00 am, along with Patrick Moran, the first of six men to be executed that day. A crowd estimated at 40,000 gathered outside the prison to pray as the executions took place.
He was one of a group of men hanged in Mountjoy Prison in the period 1920-1921 which is commonly referred to as The Forgotten Ten. In 2001 he and the other nine, including Kevin Barry, were exhumed from their graves in the prison and given a full State Funeral. He is now buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.
- Tim Carey (2001). Hanged for Ireland 'The Forgotten Ten' Executed 1920-21: A Documentary History. Dublin: Blackwater Press. ISBN 1-84131-547-8.
- Richard Bennett, page 106 "The Black and Tans", ISBN978-1-86227-098-5
- Villiers-Tuthill, Kathleen (2006). Beyond the Twelve Bens - a history of Clifden and district 1860-1923. Connemara Girl Publications. pp. 202–204. ISBN 978-0-9530455-1-8.