My first memory Cecil Whelan was on a visit to his family business on Cork St where my father would stop off regularly to buy a pram or a bike or some other essential piece of family kit.
I can’t recall an unsuccessful trip or a time when there wasn’t plenty of chat and gossip about this and that, not to mention laughs.
Of course, I was to have the pleasure of meeting Cecil many times in later years as a cub reporter, sent off to Portmarnock or Royal Dublin to pick up the results of “the Links” — the golf society he ran for 45 years, raising more than €12 million for charities all over Ireland.
Our last meeting was at the Irish Youth Foundation Awards in the Burlington at Christmas and he was his cheerful self, impeccably attired as always.
He will forever be remembered for his integrity and his association with Irish golfers such as his great friend Christy O’Connor Snr, sadly unwell, Des Smyth, Pádraig Harrington and many other sportsmen and women, who were more than happy to help him with his latest efforts for those less fortunate.
His little black book was the envy of every sports reporter in western Europe as it contained the phone numbers, not just of every great Irish sportsman and woman, but many international stars. They were all his friends.
It’s five years now since The K Club gave Cecil’s Links Society a great send off with golf, a gala dinner and first-class entertainment from the likes of Red Hurley, Dickie Rock, Luke Kelly and others. I recall the late Christy O'Connor Jnr speaking with great emotion that evening.
As Liam Kelly wrote in his account of the Links’ final outing: "Cecil is the first to acknowledge the huge contribution made by committee members since the Society began its existence in 1966, but equally, anyone close to the Links appreciates that Cecil has been essential to its success."
"The Society began in a casual manner in the winter of 1966 when a group of professionals and amateurs got together at Baltray to have an outing and keep their game in shape. Three professionals -- Christy Snr, Watty Sullivan and Jimmy Kinsella -- and 27 low-handicap amateurs played in the first event. Twenty-nine sat down to dinner and we took in £13 and 10 shillings old money.
"After that outing we decided to do it for charity and, as we always played on a links course -- Baltray was our base for the first eight years -- we called it the Links Society," said Cecil. "The second outing was a month later and we charged £1 to play and we had 80 people there. We had £25 left over and at the end of our first season we gave Cappagh Hospital a cheque for £300.
"Bear in mind, you could buy a house for around £1,000 at that time, so it was good money for charity." The rest is history -- an illustrious history."
If Irish golf was mourning Cecil Whelan, Irish sports journalism was mourning Maurice Quinn, the former Head of Sport at RTÉ Radio, who passed away suddenly on Wednesday.
Father of popular sports writer Philip Quinn of the Irish Daily Mail, he was famed for his integrity and intelligence not to mention his skill as a bridge player.
Dozens of journalists and broadcasters recall how Maurice gave them their first start in the game that remains a “family” affair, even in the digital age.
We are fortunate as Irish sports journalists to meet many special people like Maurice and Cecil along the way and it was with great sadness that we also learned on of the passing of the wife of the PGA professional Bernard Gibbons, Patrice, while on holiday in Spain just last Tuesday.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha
Patrice GIBBONS (née Murphy) Brewery Rd, Blackrock, Dublin. 26 April 2016
Suddenly while on holiday in Spain, beloved wife of Bernard and loving mother of John and Alan. Very sadly missed by her loving husband and sons, brothers and sisters, sisters in-law, brothers in-law, niece, nephews, extended family, neighbours and many friends. Rest in Peace
Removal on Saturday morning to Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Foxrock, arriving for 10.45am Funeral Mass, followed by burial in Kilternan Cemetery Park.
WHELAN Cecil (Castleknock, Dublin) April 28th. 2016 (peacefully) in the loving care of the staff at Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown and surrounded by his family, beloved husband of Pauline, dear father of Yvonne, Lorraine and Conor and a devoted grandfather of Jessica, Chloe, Claudia, Ciaran, Eoghan and Robyn. Sadly missed by his loving family, brothers, sister, relatives and friends.
Reposing at Cunningham’s Funeral Home, Church Avenue, Blanchardstown on Friday evening from 5pm to 7pm. Removal from his residence to the Church of Our Lady Mother of the Church, Castleknock on Saturday morning arriving for Requiem Mass at 10am followed by cremation in Newland’s Cross Crematorium. House private and Family flowers only, Please. Donations, if desired, to RESPECT.
Quinn Maurice (Malahide and late of RTE) April 27th, 2016 unexpectedly at home; beloved husband of Catherine (Kitty), loving father of Philip, Theresa (Terry) and Rachel and cherished grandad to Aoife, Conor, Sean, Daniel, Molly, Amy, Sarah and Katie. Sadly missed by his loving wife, son, daughters, sons-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandchildren, brothers Teddy and Dermot, sister Philippa, nephews, nieces, extended family, relatives, neighbours and friends.
Maurice will be reposing at home on Friday from 5 o’clock to 8 o’clock. Removal to St. Sylvester’s Church, Malahide on Saturday morning arriving at 9.50 o’clock for 10 o’clock Requiem Mass thence Funeral to Glasnevin Crematorium. No flowers please, donations in lieu, if desired, to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.