Devlin, Joseph Francis (‘Frank’) (1900–88), badminton player, was born 19 January 1900 at 11 Wellington Place, Dublin, to Joseph Edmund Devlin, government official, and Edith Devlin (née Jeneken). He was the only child in a mixed-denomination marriage and as a result there were constant conflicts over his schooling, which led him to become an agnostic in later years. At a young age he suffered from osteomyelitis and had to have an operation to remove part of his heel. It was during his recovery that he developed an interest in badminton. His mother used to play, and when he was laid up in bed for long periods he used to hit a shuttlecock against the wall for hours on end.
In 1917, after his father received threats for working as a civil servant, Frank was sent to England and served in the RAF for a while. It was at this time that he began to take part in many badminton tournaments. By 1921 he reached the final of the all-England men's doubles with his good friend Gordon ‘Curley’ Mack (qv), with whom he went on to win six doubles titles. This was the beginning of a long and successful career, which included his winning 18 all-England titles. Between 1925 and 1931 he won six singles titles and from 1923 to 1929 he won five mixed doubles and seven doubles titles. He dominated badminton during the 1920s, winning all three titles open to him in 1926, 1927, and 1929.
In 1925 and 1930 he was invited to go on tour with an English team to Canada and in 1937 he travelled to New Zealand, Australia, and Malaya. After turning professional in 1931 he later moved to Winnipeg, Canada, and began coaching the Winnipeg Winter Club in 1935. Shortly afterwards he moved to New York and finally settled in Baltimore, taking up a coaching position. As a player he was consistent and extremely accurate; as a coach he was exceptional, writing a book entitled Badminton for all. He was an unassuming character who was enthusiastic about his sport. In 1966 the Devlin Cup was presented for an annual competition between the USA and Canada.
He and his wife Grace had two daughters, whom he later coached; both went on to play badminton at a high level. One daughter, Judy Hashman, represented both USA and England and won ten all-England singles titles. She also won six doubles titles with her sister, Susan Peard. In 1976 he returned to Ireland; however, the Badminton Union of Ireland never fully utilised his coaching skills and he found himself coaching children in Dunlavin, Co. Wicklow. In 1985 the International Badminton Federation honoured him with the first Distinguished Service Award. He died in Clane, Co. Kildare, on 27 October 1988.