John Gillan was a Sligo native, living in Lord Edward Street, also called Georges Street, Sligo in 1911, married to Ellen. They had been married for thirteen years and five of seven children born to them survived and were living with them in 1911. All of the surviving children were sons. John spoke Irish and English.
His father was Sergeant Peter Gillan of the Dublin Metropolitan Police Force. His mother, Isabella, widowed by 1911, a native of County Leitrim, lived with him in 1911. She died in May 1914 and John marked her death with a poem.
He was a linotype operator with the Sligo Nationalist. In 1901 he gave his his occupation as printer-
These poems by John Gillan seem to have been turned out very quickly, sixteen of his poems were printed in the Sligo Nationalist between the end of June and end of the years 1913. There are no copies of the newspaper in the National Libray of Ireland for the first part of 1913 and he may have contributed as many more during those months.
Gillan's poems have nothing to commend them from the point of view of literature or craft. They are poorly composed, have awkwards rhythms and predictable rhymes. However they are entertaining and informative on local events and usually contain local references, to events, buildings, characters and practices.
Gillan's poems stopped appearing in the Sligo Nationalist in mid-
28 June Holy Well (Tubbernalth)
9 Aug Verses on Sligo Borough Court
12 July Monson's Rink Picture Palace
16 Aug The Strandhill Tragedy
16 Aug At the Railway Gate
23 Aug "Houl' That Fella"
30 Aug The Newsboys’ Strike
13 Sept "There’s a Man in the Water!"
13 Sept Lines on Last Sunday’s Home Rule Demonstration
20 Sept The Transport Union’s Excursion
4 Oct Welcome Back from Lourdes
18 Oct The Rink Picture Palace
8 Nov The Wrong Man
29 Nov Verses on Sligo Harbour
6 Dec Ardowen
20 Dec Christmas Day
17 Jan Municipal Elections
24 Jan The Sligo Volunteers
14 Feb The Doings in Sligo
21 Feb Sligo Volunteers. Their First Drill
28 Feb Lines on the Funeral of Ald. O’Donnell, Ex-
2 May Lines on Hazlewood Races
9 May Sligo Volunteers
23 May From Her Son, John Gillan
30 May Home Rule Night in Sligo
27 June A Trip on the "Eileen."