John O'Hanlon 1876-1960


Based on an obituary by J.J.Walsh in the Irish Times in February 1960.

John O'Hanlon, Irish Championships, Dublin, 1946

Irish chess lost one of its greatest personalities when John J.O'Hanlon died in Dublin last Saturday. Indifferent health in recent years prevented J.J.O'Hanlon from taking his usual active part in our domestic competitions but it is perhaps typical of this great champion's determination that, at the time of his passing, he was overhauling his opening technique preparatory to his intended comeback in the Irish championships next July.

O'Hanlon won the first ICU Irish championship title, way back in 1913, and in all he was champion on nine occasions, the last in 1940. He won nine first class tournaments in England and was also Rivera champion in 1928. J.J.O'Hanlon would travel anywhere for chess; he was a member of the Irish team at the Warsaw team tournament in 1935 and the similar event held at Buenos Aires in 1939. Just after the war O'Hanlon went to Holland and won a prize at the Zaandam tournament, which was one of the chief chess fixtures of 1946.

Not unexpectedly for a man so closely connected with chess for more than half a century, O'Hanlon was known, either personally or by reputation, to every chess player in the country and indeed his connection with the game was noted even by many non-players. On numerous occasions, when mentioning my enthusiasm for chess to an acquaintance with no knowledge of the game, I was immediately asked "and do you know O'Hanlon?". Abroad too, J.J.O'Hanlon was well known and in Hastings, Amsterdam, Moscow, Prague and Munich the disclosure of my Irish nationality inevitably prompted the question "How is Mr. O'Hanlon?".

In his youth O'Hanlon was an all round sportsman and as an oarsman he annexed trophies at regattas all over the country. He was also a strong long distance swimmer, and on many occasions completed the distance between Greenore and Warrenpoint. Irish chessplayers will, however, remember J.J.O'Hanlon as a great player and a great gentleman.

Created 1960-02-25 ◦ Last updated 2014-07-23 ◦ Editor MO

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