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The Hannons from Killucan


The Hannons. Above, Fr Stephen with Tara Hannon. Tara is one of the descendants of the Hannons from Killucan and has worked at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth Western Australia. Tara was born in Perth and has known many of the Camillians who worked in Western Australia; particularly, Fr Sean Bredin, Fr Tom Smith and Fr Stephen Foster.

In 1987, unbeknown to Tara, she was entered into the Rose of Tralee contest by Fr Tom Smith and Sr Victoire(both from Pastoral Care Dept. at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital) and only had 3 weeks to prepare herself for her surprise trip to Ireland for the contest.


Fr Tom O'Connor has unearthed recent letters from some of the Hannon descendants who left Killucan for Canada and they make for interesting reading. See below.

NEWSLETTER  (2012) ………….. From the Archives


(Among the large family and descendants of the Hannans, two were Jesuit priests. Both were missionaries in Africa. Our own Fr. Charles O’Mahony managed to track them down and corresponded with them. Here we publish two very interesting letters to Fr. O’Mahony by Frs. Frank and Michael Hannan nearly 50 years ago in 1962.) T.O’C.                            





The         Presbytery,



                                                                                                         Lancs.                                                                                                    Oct. 30th, 1962.



Dear Father O’Mahony,


My brother, Fr Michael Hannan, in S. Rhodesia has sent me on your letter and asked me to amplify his reply. I think the simplest thing is to give you the family tree, and then you will know just where you are:


My grandfather, Benjamin Hannan, moved to Killucan from Co. Kildare in 1848, at the age of 24, to assist his relation, a Mr. O’Kelly, in the running of the Mill, which became Hannan’s Mill presently. My grandfather married twice, and that will have caused you confusion in tracking the descendants.  He married first a Mary Brady, and   there were four children of that  marriage: Mary who died a Mercy nun in Clara in 1896; Katie who died at school at Roehampton, aged 12; Isabella, who died at school in Vienna, aged  17; and  finally, Cornelius, who inherited Riverstown, and  whose children were Ben Claude (died about two years ago); Nell, who was the last Hannan owner of or the  property; and Mary who married Bob Featherstone of a place about seven  miles from Killucan and whose children survive. One is a racehorse trainer on the Curragh. Both she and her husband are dead, RIP. 


My grandfather married again ca. 1865, and the children of that marriage were: Frank  (my father), Ben (died 1936, no issue); Ralph, (died 1916, not married), Edward, (d. 1874, very young). My farther’s famiy are the  ones you have been coming across. After the Mill was burned down, ca 1833, my  grandfather opened a business in London and then in 1910 came back to Co. Carlow, moving later to Co. Kilkenny, and founded a malting business. This was largely build up by father,  who married in 1897, and most of the family were born at Barracore, Gorresbridge, Co Kilkenny. The family are: Ben (in Los Angeles); Maire (Galway), Frank ((myself, Jesuit priest), Angela,  (Canada), Colette,  (Canda), Michael (Jesuit priest, S. Rhodesia, the most distinguished member of the family), and Isabella (married, now Mrs. Thomas, and she  has eleven children, all boys, Canada). The  explanation of the recurrent mention of Canada is that  in order to provide income  for his mother and  brother, my father sold to a combine, and this left him with insufficient income to bring up  a family as he wished, so he emigrated to Canada in 1912. He had married the daughter of a brilliant doctor, a genius, so that my mother was remarkable in her own right but principally as a first-rate Catholic and mother.  She died on Aug. 24th of this year, RIP


Now to return to Michael. He became a Jesuit in 1925, was ordained in 1938, and went out to the foreign  Missions during the  War (a very  difficult journey) about 1941, and has been in S. Rhodesia every since. He has twice interrupted his work to do literary tasks. He was borrowed by the Rhodesian government for about  2 ½ years to compile a standard dictionary of the four main  dialects of the shone group; and now he  is engaged on translating  the  Bible into Shona.  Rather a spate of articles have appeared lately about this latter project in order to raise money for the salaries of his j collaborators  (and possibly himself, but the total 1,000 pounds is meager by standards over here). The JESUIT MISSIONS, (obtainable from Fr.  H. Thwaites, 1, Spencer Hill, Wimbledon, London S.W. 19; the  Rhodesian monthly THE SHIELD had good ones; also, a newspaper out there; … each gives one some new idea of the work. A really difficult and great undertaking. But  he  is really humble about his work, and your congratulations will  have been good for him.


It may interest you further that a life of my grandmother is contemplated, (she became Provincial of a Religious Order, which she joined on the death of my  grandfather). I collected the materials for it thirty years ago, but owing to bad eyes have never been able to write it. But a move towards getting it written is now on foot; so that you may expect visitors to Riverstown to get the local colour.  She ruled over her family there for the best part of twenty  years, and in the spacious Victorian days, and  much of interest survives … at  any rate, a certain amount even from those days. Her confessor assured me that she was a saint, and when I modified this in conversation in his presence to “a very holy person”, he corrected me: “That is not what I said; I said she was a saint”. As the speaker was Monsignor John Foley … always known in Carlow as Dr. John … the President of Carlow College and the  brother of a famous Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin,  the words have weight. And those who knew her husband say that he was every bit as holy a man as she was a woman. So you see that nothing will be more pleasing to her in Heaven than that the old house is now a religious house. And I may  say that  nothing pleases me personally more than that it is a religious house dedicated to the corporal works of mercy.


God bless you and all yours, especially all in Killucan, yours in our Lord.


(signed)             Frank Hannan, S.J.



Rothwell Farm,


S. Rhodesia.

20th October 1962.



Dear Father O’Mahony,


Very many thanks indeed for your letter. Unfortunately, as the Benjamin of the family, I never saw Killucan, though, naturally, I heard a lot about it. Both  my grandparents seem to have been very zealous in their service of the Lord, so you  must have added to their accidental glory by putting the old house to such good use. I’m going to pass your letter on to my brother, Fr. Frank, who knows Killucan  well and who will be very pleased indeed by your kindness.  It was indeed my sister Mairie whom one of your Brothers met in Galway. She has had bad health for years and had to return to the milder climate of the ‘Old Country’ to keep alive.


I’m afraid people get a false impression of my excellence from the Times article. There are hundreds of mistakes in the dictionary, which I can explain away of course by pointing out that it was a rush job. However it was really only a feat of brute strength, getting the words into print, and I cannot claim to be myself a master of the language. These things lead on to yet other things and so at the moment I find myself  half way through the New Testament, after nine months work on a translation of the whole of the Bible into Shona. Again I have neither the Greek nor the Hebrew, nor, for that matter, the Shone, to make a good job of it, but the job has to be done and I am the only one that has the sheer brute strength to tackle it. It is, of course, a much more rewarding work than the rather dull task than listing words and their meanings. I  am learning my scripture over again. Probably I shall be on this for four or five more years, till the proofs are done. I’ll try to avoid the mistake I made with the dictionary, I  applied for a new job before I  had done the proof reading and found myself opening a new Teacher Training school, with endless periods of teaching and all the galley proofs and then the page proofs to correct.


But now, Father, I am  not only thrilled at the possibility of Riverstown coming to Rhodesia, in the coming by and by; I am all on fire at  the suggestion of the possibility of Camillians coming to help my people. Please think of what is happening. My first mission was Musami: we had a D I S P E N S A R Y, i.e. a round  hut with a grass roof and a small shelf to hold the bottle of Aquaflavin, for all wounds and burns, of Castor Oil for all pregnancies that were obstinate, of Epsom Salts for all other ills. In time two of the adjoining huts were used for very bad cases: Agnes, my first T.B. died in one. I wrote, i.e., duplicated, 3,000 letters and sent them to addresses in the Directory, asking for a donation of one pound for a hospital. I  received 97 pounds from one pound subscribers, 100 pounds from one farmer and  120 pounds from my old parish in Canada (aided and urged by my  poor mother – died August  24th ’62). Government

would pay half the cost of buildings. So I built one ward and with the grant from the government for that was embarking on the building of the second, when I was sent to

start a new mission. There we had nothing. I was helped by a Canadian lay missionary

who had been an orderly in the war. He started with another round hut. This has grown into a quite large hospital and the wing for infectious diseases is now about to be built. Meanwhile my first love has grown a quite respectable hospital with 80 maternity

cases a month and the Lord knows how many day patients and in-patients. Unfortunately, the non-Catholic resident doctor is giving up residence in order to keep his aged mother company in town and will now visit the mission only twice a week.


Father, we have not touched the problem: there are no homes for the aged or for the epileptics. If you were to send three men only, they would settle at a mission and do untold good. PLEASE, don’t wait till you have many men,  I assure you the Irish Carmelites have had a new lease of life, doubled and trebled vocations since they took a part of  S. Rhodesia. You could not but be blessed by our Lord if you sent a company of two or three to take over an existing hospital or to start a home for the old or to staff a hospital not yet built. We are operating two missions this year with the hope that there will be a hospital attached – here’s your chance.


Once again,  Father, thank you very much indeed from a grandson of Riverstown for your kind letter.


God bless and guard you always. Please keep me in your  prayers.



Yours very sincerely

(signed)        M. Hannan, S.J.


Fr Stephen was recently in Australia and had the opportunity to thank Sr Frances Stibi for her work in copying all correspondence between the Order and the Archdiocese of Perth covering the Order's presence in Western Austyralia from 1963 onwards. This is a valuable contribution to our Archives and these documents are now in the Archives in Killucan.alt

Above, Fr Stephen with Sr Frances Stibi, Perth Diocesan Archivist, Shrove Tuesday 2012.

India 2012


Fr Stephen Foster, Provincial in Bangalore with Fr Baby who will soon join us in Ireland.



Above: Fr Reji, Vice-Provincial India with Fr Stephen Provincial with the Anglo-Irish Novice, Boniface Walusimbi

More later

Uganda 2012

.altWelcome to our Website. Order of St Camillus. Patron Saint of the Sick. 

Just before the year 2011 ended, Fr Stephen Foster, Provincial, visited the confreres in Uganda. We are now at the beginning of what one might call - phase II - of the Ugandan Mission. What was started by Fr Tom O'Connor & Fr Tom Smith is now being continued by the above four men. Let us keep them in our prayers. From this small seed that the Lord has planted, a great shoot will sprout and flower in the pearl of Africa and people will learn about the true valuable pearl that belongs to the Kingdom of heaven and which St Camillus so willingly embraced.

Our Lady, Health of the Sick, pray for us. St Camillus, pray for us.

Above, Frs Johnson, Richard, Shibin & Russel


Signpost to the House


The House is 7 minutes from the Source of the Nile River


January 2, 2012 with Provincial, Fr Stephen Fosteralt

our house from the front gatealt

looking back over


Our house in Nyenga, Frs Shibin & Richardalt



Tuesday 3 January


The House belongs to the Bishop, but was renovated originally for the two Frs Tom, through the generosity of our Benefactors in Ireland, England and elsewhere.alt

5 January, Fr Stephen meets an old friend from the Hoima Diocese, Fr Peter Barugahara. Fr Peter spent some summers in Ireland doing locum chaplaincy work at the Mater Hospital, Dublin.


our students in Nairobi. Joseph, Achileo, Michael & Brian


Two new members of the Community

New Year


JAMES MCHUGH - Bro. Camillus - see his video interview on his vocation, front page.

See our front page for our DVDs on St Camillus and the Order.

Click here for the latest newsletter


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