Jack Phelan: Solicitor left immense mark during a 30-year career

The death of John P (Jack) Phelan, solicitor, on Saturday, March 21, has removed one of the most memorable and admirable members of the legal profession in Munster.

Jack Phelan: Solicitor left immense mark during a 30-year career

Born in Waterford in 1932, Jack studied law and practised in Carlow initially, joining Barry O’Meara and Son Solicitors in 1967. He later became a partner in conjunction with John A O’Meara, a scrum-half for Ireland from 1951 to 1958.

Jack’s service to business and personal activities were giant: He was legal contributor to Irish Refining, the B&I Line, Cork Celtic, and Examiner Publications Cork over a 30-year career.

His contribution to Examiner Publications was immense: During that time he changed gently from the attitude of legally not wanting to print anything to the reluctant acceptance that an editor could occasionally be right.

Jack’s other ambition was the sea, but not necessarily a sea lawyer. Later in his career he worked at weekends — voluntarily — on the B&I Line, Brittany Ferries, and the Swansea Cork Ferry. On the latter he was a voluntary Purser in a splendid peaked cap. With his strong religious feeling, his shout at Roches Point to passengers — “Come and have breakfast” — was taken from Evangelist John’s account of Jesus after the Resurrection calling to his fishermen disciples to leave their charcoal fire and eat. (Fr Dermot Brennan OP, Pope’s Quay)

Jack was also a big fan of trainspotting and rowing, and he also toured the world.

He was religious, being known well in St Mary’s, Pope’s Quay, and was legal adviser to the ethics committee at Cork Regional Hospital.

As a husband and father, his wife Gertrude predeceased him in 2009 and his three daughters, Colette, Nicola, and Helen, cared for him to the end with his grandchildren Cathy, Grace, and Seán, and sons-in-law- Pat and Micheál.

Jackpassed away last Saturday week with the rugby referee’s whistle in his ears and the knowledge that Ireland had retained the Six Nations Championship.

T. E. C.

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